Research by SME insurance provider, Superscript, has revealed that self-employed women lost 20 per cent of their income over the course of the pandemic, while men only lost 11 per cent.
The survey of over 2,000 sole traders, freelancers and micro-businesses owners showed that the primary factor for the drop in income was because demand for products and services fell by more than one third (35%).
Only 14 per cent attributed the loss of income because of lockdown restrictions and physical premises closing.
As a result of this significant fall in income, more than half (53%) of women polled reported that their mental wellbeing had been negatively impacted, compared to 38 per cent of men.
They said the primary reason for this was because they were worried about providing for their families (28%).
Other reasons that led to poor mental health included lack of social interaction with colleagues, friends and family (23%), and concerns over the future of their business (14%).
Describing her experience, Deborah Simmons, Founder and Director of brand consultancy Camino Insight Ltd, said: “Pre-Covid, I had just had the best financial year in my career. After lockdown, it was immediately followed by my worst year, financially, as work all but dried up.
“To add to this, I did not qualify for any government support because I was a limited company director, with no employees, no fixed workspace, and I didn’t want to stop working on my business.”
Despite the tough year, Simmons added she “persevered, built relationships with new clients and continued to build my credentials” and believes she is now “stronger” and more “confident” about the future of her business, which has recently picked up again.
According to Superscript’s study, with restrictions having now been lifted and the economy opening up again, women are slightly more optimistic than their male counterparts – 30 per cent compared to 29 per cent.
In addition, half (50%) of all respondents are enthusiastic about being self-employed and said they love what they do.
Cameron Shearer, Co-Founder and CEO of Superscript, said: “It’s been a tough time for the self-employed as they have tried to keep their business […] above water despite demand for products and services dropping off a cliff.
“Self-employed women have been disproportionately impacted, which illustrates that society still has a way to go to encourage female entrepreneurship. 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.”