Fall out from the pay gap has a far reach, but there may be some silver lining.
As it turns out, the pay gap is a little like one of those Magic Eye puzzles from back in the day: The longer you look at it, the more bonkers stuff you start to see.
We know by now that the side-hustle economy is blowing up for a variety of reasons: An increasing desire for greater job flexibility, financial need, and greater access to platforms like Uber, Lyft and TaskRabbit.
According to a recent study from recruiting software company Jobvite that surveyed 2,000 people in the U.S., nearly a quarter of Americans now do something to earn a little cash on the side — a considerable jump from 5% in 2013.
While there are valid concerns over whether some of these side-hustle setups are exploiting workers, it’s clearly gotten a foothold in the psyche of the American worker. But here’s the thing: Even outside the confines of a traditional workplace structure, women are still faring worse than men.
According to the study, 61 percent of women cited financial need as the reason they have a side hustle, whereas only 48 percent of men did. When asked about whether their side hustle was motivated by a passion for the work they were doing, 31 percent of men said yes, versus only 19 percent of women.
The study doesn’t explain the reasoning behind this, but of course, one theory is quite obvious: The wage gap. With women earning 79 cents on the dollar and seeing huge disparities in average incomes in the most lucrative cities across the country, it makes sense that they’re working extra jobs out of financial need more than men are.
This would also explain why men are more at liberty to pursue side gigs they’re passionate about—they’re not worried about supplementing their finances as much as women are.
Rachel Bitte, the chief people officer at Jobvite, had another theory that she discussed with Fast Company: “Women are increasingly trying to become more financially independent and secure earlier in life.”
This fits with the notion that people are getting married later than ever, with men tying the knot at an average age of 29.5 years and woman at 27.5 years, according to Pew Research.
That theory certainly stings a little less, but still. It’s difficult to believe that centuries of women getting the short shrift when it comes to finances doesn’t factor in when it comes to who benefits the most from the booming side-hustle industry.
But Bitte offers up a little more silver lining: “It shows that women are feeling financial pressure, and that financial pressure is going to lead them to potentially look at their full-time gig and question whether they’re making enough, and maybe they’ll start to negotiate more,” she says.
You hear that, side-hustlers? Leverage that extra drive and commitment to your advantage at your day job, and it’s a win for you and for closing up that pay gap bit by bit.