Self-employed women lost around 20 per cent of their income during the course of the pandemic, compared to 11 per cent for self-employed men. This is according to a new survey by the insurance provider for small and medium-sized enterprises Superscript, shared with City A.M.
The poll surveyed 2,015 male and female sole-traders, freelancers and micro-business owners. Those whose overall income was affected by the pandemic cited the drop in demand for products and services as the primary reason, followed by the closure of physical premises.
The research also found that loss of income during the pandemic resulted in a drop in mental wellbeing. Women suffered a greater mental toll than men, 53 per cent compared to 38 per cent. Concerns over providing for themselves and their families, the lack of interaction with others and uncertainty about the future of their businesses played a significant role.
Female entrepreneurs and women-led businesses have been overlooked by the government’s business support schemes, according to the Women’s Enterprise Policy Group.
Last month, the group of experts from business support and academia called for more action to support women’s enterprise and implement gender-aware policies. The female take-up of the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) grants is also said to have been lower than the male take-up.
Despite the challenges, almost a third of respondents were optimistic about the future and half expressed their continued enthusiasm for being self-employed and running micro-businesses.
“Self-employed women have been disproportionately impacted, which illustrates that society still has a way to go to encourage female entrepreneurship,” said Cameron Shearer, co-founder of Superscript.
“Nevertheless, now that the fog is clearing, it is inspiring to see the resilience and adaptability that the self-employed have shown, and they will benefit from that in the long run. We are seeing more demand for business insurance as confidence and optimism returns and more people look to set up on their own.”