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First-Ever Gender Pay Gap Report of the Creative Economy Illustrates the Severity of Wage Discrepancies

New data from HoneyBook shows that, simply stated, female creatives need to charge more for their services and match their male counterparts

San Francisco – WEBWIRE

HoneyBook, the business management platform for entrepreneurs in creative industries, today released the first-ever report dedicated entirely to the gender pay gap among self-employed creative professionals. The company has 50,000+ entrepreneurs on its software platform, providing these users with the tools they need to grow and manage their businesses in competitive, creative industries.
The data reveals there is a perception that the gender pay gap doesn’t exist in these creative industries, when in fact, women are making 32 percent less than their male counterparts for the same jobs. Most importantly, the report explores possibilities for why this pay gap exists and shines a light on wage statistics of the creative economy.
The study, conducted by HoneyBook, analyzed internal data of over 200,000 invoices from October 2016-2017 and polled 3,102 creative entrepreneurs from September 24 - September 29, 2017 to develop the initial report, uncovering the following:
Gender Pay Gap Perceptions Don’t Reflect Reality
The creative economy is comprised of industries like photography, graphic design, cinematography, event planning and floral design. More than half of all creative entrepreneurs, 63 percent female and 72 percent male, believe men and women are paid equally. This illustrates a misconception in the creative economy that, despite the existence of a wide disparity in pay, creative entrepreneurs don’t believe the problem exists.
This further denotes that entrepreneurs don’t know what each other are making in their industries, showcasing siloed discussions about fair pay and what creatives are charging for services. In fact, for those respondents who are aware of the pay gap, 47 percent agreed that wage secrecy was part of the reason the gender pay gap exists.
The Harsh Truth About the Gender Pay Gap
On average, female entrepreneurs in creative industries earn $30,700 per year and men earn $45,400 per year for the same exact jobs; this is a 32 percent disparity in pay for men and women. That’s more than the 29 percent difference in finance and insurance, reported as the industries with the highest gender pay gap. Only 20 percent of women make over $50,000 per year compared to 42 percent of their male counterparts.
Even hourly rates showcase an alarming imbalance; 37 percent of women earn $9 or less per hour compared to 20 percent of men. The unequal pay persists even though 80 percent of respondents have college and graduate degrees.
No Money, Mo Problems
When asked, respondents who were aware of the gender pay gap pointed to these reasons for its existence:

  • 61 percent pointed to negotiating power, meaning that women are less likely to negotiate higher costs and are treated differently during negotiations
  • 47 percent pointed to wage secrecy, meaning that women are underpaid without knowing it
  • 40 percent pointed to the “Motherhood Penalty,” which is the opportunity cost of being a mother due to  perceived lower job commitment
  • 22 percent cited underrepresentation of women in the industry
  • 20 percent cited industry discrimination against women–the lowest of any contributing factor listed on the survey

Negotiating power and wage secrecy were the top two reasons cited for the gender pay gap. This suggests that female creatives have the potential to close the gender pay gap simply by negotiating and charging more for their services, in addition to establishing a dialogue around what they’re making in their respective industries.
“HoneyBook is focused on making creative entrepreneurs more successful, because an empowered creative class has the ability to impact the world at large,” said Shadiah Sigala, co-founder and head of people at HoneyBook. “In order to affect change in the wide gender pay gap, the first step was to shine a light on the reality of the situation and share those findings. We started with our community; but the data has the ability to impact the creative economy as a whole.”
When it comes to certain industries, female DJs are making 45 cents per male dollar and photographers are earning 60 cents per male dollar, showcasing the largest differences in pay by industry. Women are making significantly less than men in these industries, pointing to a systemic problem in how men and women are paid. There isn’t a definitive understanding for why this gender pay gap exists; however, what’s clear is that women are not charging accurately for their services.
To view the complete findings, download the full report here:
HoneyBook analyzed internal data of 200,000 invoices from October 2016 - October 2017 and found that there is a startling difference in the revenue that men are making over women. Across almost all factors, like profession and types of projects, men are being compensated more than women. HoneyBook supplemented this analysis with a follow-up survey of 3,102 respondents to try to understand why this gender pay gap exists. This survey was administered from September 25 through September 29, 2017.

About HoneyBook
HoneyBook is the technology leader in the B2B creative economy. Over 50,000+ creative entrepreneurs connect through their platform to share opportunities, collaborate, and manage their business—all in one place. HoneyBook allows these creative entrepreneurs to focus on developing great products and services while its software manages administrative tasks like invoicing and payments. Founded in 2013 by four friends who were all entrepreneurs in creative industries: Oz Alon, Shadiah Sigala, Naama Alon and Dror Shimoni, HoneyBook creates a better way for creative business owners to manage their clients and own their freedom. Learn more at

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 creative economy
 gender wage gap

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