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The Sizzle Of The Side Hustle

We are AVA, a macro-learning environment for ambitious professional women. We provide weekly on-line content and timely in-person workshops to build critical workplace competencies. Send this to friends and and share on social media @advancewithava.


The U.S. employment market is experiencing an increase in the number of people earning supplemental income from other than traditional employment scenarios. While government surveys do not show an increase in self-employment per se, tax records strongly suggest that a large percentage of workers are engaged in more than one job, at least one of which does not involve a traditional employer-employee relationship. Enter the side hustle.

What Is Driving Women To Start A Side Gig

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018), women make up approximately half of our workforce. While the typical woman in America earns $45,097, the typical man makes $55,291. On average, women in America are paid only 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, with women of color suffering from an even larger gap. At the current rate of progress, it is projected that this gender pay gap will not close until 2093.

Several factors contribute to this gap. The heinous one that gets most of our attention occurs when a woman doing the same job as a man at the same company is paid less. Another is what’s known as occupational segregation. Generally speaking, men and women are concentrated in different fields from one another. Think of STEM positions, for example. Jobs that are most often associated with men generally pay better than female dominated ones. These occupations don’t have higher a pay scale because they require higher education or skills; they pay more because men do them. Further evidence from the American Association of University Women, shows that women’s work is undervalued: when an influx of women enters a previously male-dominated profession, wages for the occupation as a whole decrease.

For Passion Or For Money?

So now, what is a side hustle? The side hustle is work done by people in their “spare time” outside their “real job.” Examples abound such as renting out a spare room on Airbnb, driving for Uber or Lyft, becoming a TaskRabbit or delivering food GrubHub. There is a seemingly endless number of on-line (no shoes required!) gigs like freelancing, surveys, teaching, and selling your unwanted possessions.

Who are the people earning income in an alternative channel? It’s probably not a surprise, but this trend is most common among millennials, with 48% doing some sort of side work. While 39% of Gen Xers have a side gig, as do 28% of baby boomers.

We might think that the reason to take on other work gigs is to make money. According to a recent Gallup survey, only about one-third of people with multiple jobs say they do them out of financial necessity. The data also reveals that the money aspect is more important to some demographics, with 59% of older workers reporting that the need for money is their motivation. Younger workers are more often interested in using skills and talents they enjoy and which are often in demand. Overall, 22% of those with a side hustle say they do it to pursue a “passion project.” And 27% of workers say they are more passionate about their side hustle than their traditional job.

Choose Your Side Path Wisely

Let’s look a bit deeper into what side work women are doing vs men. A study by Jobvite reveals that men are more likely to take on a professional side hustle compared to women. Of the estimated 43% of alternative work arrangements that are freelancing, 50% are men vs. 36% women. Women are more likely to walk dogs, provide childcare or open an Etsy shop to earn extra money. This different approach to side hustles gives men an advantage over women when it comes to earning extra income. In addition, a professional side gig might be more likely lead to an entrepreneurial opportunity. Not only does it give you access to a wider network, having a side gig can boost women's confidence in their current job and it can increase their overall career skills. It is important to choose your side path wisely!

So, Should I Learn The Hustle?

It depends. It seems idyllic to some, the idea of working remotely, dictating your own hours, being your own boss. But there are some risks and some negatives too - like working more hours after your day job and your day job not being keen on your side gig.

Understanding your motivation will be key in how you choose to move forward. Is your new gig to pursue your passion for art or science? Are you trying to network in your current professional field but outside your current job? Do you envision this as something that you want to build and grow into a full-time job? Or are you generally satisfied with your 9-5 but need or want an additional source of money to pay off student loans or to travel or for fun?

Building Both Your Career and Your Side Hustle

Having multiple sources of income can offer you power or control over your situation. Not feeling great about your primary gig? With other income streams you may be more confident about voicing your needs to your main employer rather than being paralyzed by fear of losing your one and only paycheck.

If you do decide to take on a side job, here are four tips from Rachel Bitte in 4 Questions Smart People Ask About Side Gigs (So They Don't Lose Their Jobs). Find out if it is allowed at your company by really reading your company handbook or your employment contract. To avoid a conflict of interest, don't utilize any of your company's assets including suppliers, brands, employees, customers or computers. You can ask your human resources department if they think there is a conflict but don't give too many details away. If it is allowed by your company, you don't necessarily have to tell your boss. But with social media being so accessible, they may find out the hard way. If you decide, pre-empt an awkward conversation by going to talk with them casually. Employment is at-will. They can fire you for any reason that isn't legally protected. So no matter what you decide about telling your employer, make sure you are doing your day job with 100% boss-satisfaction. Be on-time, hit your deadlines and get results.

You Are The CEO Of Your Life And Your Career

You have the power to build your career. You can choose to remake yourself in all aspects of your work and life. As Robert Greene says, “working on yourself like clay should be one of your most pleasurable life tasks. It makes you … an artist creating yourself.” What would you do if you could be doing what you truly wanted? Maybe the side hustle can help you get there.


What topics do you want to discuss? Let us know in the comments below. #advancewithava

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