March 11, 2016 - Rachel Miller
More women than ever are choosing to leave paid employment in order to become their own boss, according to new research.
Data from Crunch Accounting shows that the number of women starting their own business has grown 42% since 2010, and, it says almost a third of new businesses are now founded by women.
In a survey of entrepreneurs commissioned by Crunch Accounting to mark International Women's Day 2016, 51% of female freelancers reported feeling significantly or moderately less stressed since leaving the traditional world of work - 10% more than their male counterparts.
Helena Mann, operations manager for Crunch Accounting, said: "Freelancing is allowing women a level of flexibility and autonomy that's simply unheard of in the traditional 9 to 5 workplace. For anyone trying to balance family and a career, freelancing is a chance to finally level the playing field."
The experience of women in the traditional world of work has also been in the spotlight this week as Investors in People polled 2,000 employees and found that 83% of women think gender discrimination exists in the workplace.
This figure is lower than 2015, according to Paul Devoy, head of Investors in People. He said: "The level of perceived gender discrimination uncovered by our report is worryingly high. The good news is that this statistic has dropped by 5% since our poll in 2015, although it is clear there is still a long way to go."
The poll found that 41% of employees believe their workplace has a culture of encouraging gender equality. However, 30% of men polled said there is no difference between men and women's pay - despite the fact that, on average, women earn 19% less than men an hour (UKCES, 2015).
Also this week, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is calling for more to be done to raise the aspirations of young women in order to achieve gender parity.
Dr Adam Marshall, the BCC's acting director general, said: "Young people, especially young women, often have deep-rooted preconceptions about certain job roles. We need to change these perceptions if we are to use the nation's talents and skills more effectively."