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We have data on ethnicity, gender and rates; and we need to hear from more of the best-paid freelances

Do freelance rates discriminate?

THANKS to the #FreelancerPayGap initiative, London Freelance Branch has added over 1000 Rates for the Job with information on the journalists' ethnicity as well as their gender.

And what do we find? To no-one's great surprise, in this data-set women are getting less than men and people who do not identify as "white" are getting less than those who do.

Out of 1023 rates reported, overwhelmingly in June 2020, 24 were from people who identified as non-binary or transsexual or did not give a gender. This is, sadly, too few to draw firm conclusions.

The picture is complicated by the fact that men report more years' experience of freelancing than women. People who identified themselves as "white" report more than those who did not.

This could indicate that more people who do not identify as "white" and more women are becoming freelance journalists. It could, though, also imply that more such people are dropping out of freelance journalism - or both.

Please forgive us for using the label "diverse" to describe people who identified themselves as other then "white" in a way that fits in the boxes. Because people wrote in a "free text" description of their ethnicity, we are not able to analyse that "diversity" in more detail. Note too that in our last analysis of rates submitted on this site, in August 2018, women were doing less badly than men.

The #FreelancerPayGap initiative also received 21 rates for photography and 10 for illustration. In these fields each job of work is so different from the others that it's hard to make fair comparisons.

So, the results. We converted rates reported in other currencies at sterling market rates on 10 April 2021. The "mean" is the usual "average", calculated by adding up all the relevant rates and dividing by the number of them:

Words, paid per 1000

Mean paid, converted to £ Mean experience, years Rates submitted
Women, white 308.79 7.37 389
Women, diverse 255.44 5.84 119
Men, white 313.06 8.26 131
Men, diverse 269.25 6.81 19
Other, white 267.48 6.53 15
Other, diverse 85.75 6.50 2

We plotted individual rates reported against reported years of experience to see what patterns emerged. It seems likely that the higher mean rates for white men and women are partly accounted for by the scattering of excellent rates some such people got. Perhaps surprisingly, by eye experience does not seem to correlate with higher rates:

Scatter diagram of rates for words

Rates for words, paid per 1000 (click/tap to expand)

If you want to assist with running tests on the statistical significance of such impressions, please do get in touch.

Of the 348 rates reported for work paid by the day - shifts, in our language of rates - 296 are in rublic relations and allied trades: that's 85 per cent.

Shifts (day rates)

Mean paid, converted to £ Mean experience, years Rates submitted
Women, white 367.99 10.84 183
Women, diverse 340.60 8.81 58
Men, white 441.66 12.28 89
Men, diverse 424.19 8.58 12
Other, white 387.50 9.50 4
Other, diverse 450.00 12.00 2

In the plot of shift rates against experience we do see - again by eye - a slight rising trend with experience.

We also see - with more exceptions - most of the highest rates being paid to white men and women:

Scatter diagram of rates for shifts

Rates for shifts (click/tap to expand)

Anna Codrea-Rado, who co-founded the #FreelancerPayGap initiative, comments: "I'm obviously not a statistician, but I think these data tell us what we've suspected: which is that pay gaps exist in freelance journalism. We have a gender pay gap and an ethnic pay gap. White men are getting paid more to write articles and carry out shift work than their counterparts who are female and/or people of colour."

We'd both be interested to know why 749 rates came from women and 251 from men. More research may, as is so often the case, be required.

Anna continues: "The analysis that's gone into this is really important and it shows us why we need transparency around rates. That means, though, that the people getting paid the most have an even greater responsibility to be transparent. Sharing rates and being transparent will help us understand the inequality and pay gaps that exist and will go a long way towards beginning to dismantle them."

The London Freelance Branch Rate for the Job service is now asking freelances to tell us about your ethnicity, whether you are disabled, and your experience. Please do tell us now what you've been paid. We also ask you to tell us about other important matters such as the time taken to get paid.