Women doing less badly

WOMEN have caught up with men in the rates they get paid for writing. That's the good news: the bad news is that part of the reason is that the average rates reported in the Rates for the Job (above) by journalists who identify as men has fallen, and no-one's doing very well once we take inflation into account.

Our aim here was to see whether we could detect discrimination between women and men in freelance rates actually paid - complementing the General Secretary's presentation. Examining the more recent rates in detail, we are able to suggest increases in the Freelance Fees Guide. We processed data for the past 10 years - July 2008 to June 2018.

Words, per 1000, newspapers: gender trends

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The trend line for rates achieved by women from national newspapers is from about £320 per 1000 words to about £400. In the same period the Consumer Price Index has gone from 220 to 252, so that £400 is worth £350 in 2008 pounds.

For men, however, the linear trend line runs from £340 to £220 per thousand words. The trend for reported rates for which no sex or gender was specified is from £420 to £380. The "trend line" is the mathematical "best fit" to all the points. As you can see from the chart, there is a huge scatter, with a few top-grade rates flying above a welter of reasonable, indifferent and poor rates. There are not enough top-grade rates to affect the trend a great deal.

We have included all rates directly reported to the Rate for the Job, however they were rated, but excluded reports of journalists being offered no money at all for our work.

Words, per 1000, magazines: gender trends

click for a larger chart

Above is a chart of results for rates paid by magazines. For these we see roughly the same pattern: the trend of female, male and unknown rates has been from equality at £280 per 1000 to £360, £170 and flat at £280 respectively. We hope soon to produce an equivalent chart for editorial shifts. This takes longer because we have to hand-convert each rate to a standard 7-hour day so that they are comparable with each other.

So: is there discrimination? Probably not, perhaps surprisingly, for the average working freelance. And the trends for "unknown" rates are compatible with there not being a massive reporting bias. Of course, our figures don't include direct reports from "star" journalists, most of the best-paid of whom are men. The moral of the story for everyone is: always ask for more. We are working on further training courses in negotiation skills: see here for some.

We aren't even going to try to work out statistical significance for these figures. We can't do similar exercises for other kinds of work - in most cases the rates simply aren't comparable with each other and we don't have enough reports for, for example, photography paid by the day. You can help by submitting the rates you've been paid to www.londonfreelance.org/rates/submit - in strict confidence.