Empowering Mothers: The Benefits of the Professional Gig Economy

By Sarah Kelly

The gig economy refers to a labor market of short-term, temporary, or freelance jobs, where individuals are hired on a per-project or gig basis, rather than working full-time for an employer. In a gig economy, workers are often independent contractors, meaning they are not entitled to traditional employment benefits like health insurance, paid time off, or retirement plans. Instead, they have flexibility in choosing when and where to work, allowing for a better work-life balance or the opportunity to pursue multiple income streams simultaneously (McKinsey, 2023). For many mothers, juggling the demands of parenthood with a traditional job can be challenging.
In 2016, when I joined the gig economy as a contractor in the technology and cybersecurity field, contracting kept me in my field of work without gaps in my resume. It also gave me the flexibility I needed as a mother with small kids. Although a gig economy provides many benefits, this type of work has some challenges, such as financial or professional development limitations. For the career development professional working with mothers considering the gig economy, some of the benefits and challenges will be discussed below, with recommendations for providing effective assistance.

Benefits of the Gig Economy

Both the family in general and the mother in particular can benefit from the gig economy.

Flexibility to Prioritize Family

One of the most significant advantages of the professional gig economy for mothers is the flexibility it provides. Unlike traditional employment, where rigid schedules and long hours may conflict with family commitments, gig work allows mothers to set their own hours and work from anywhere (Wilson, 2023). Mothers may struggle to achieve a healthy work-life balance, perhaps feeling torn between advancing their careers and spending quality time with their families. The gig economy empowers mothers to take control of their schedules, allowing flexibility. Additionally, gig work offers the flexibility to prioritize family without sacrificing professional aspirations (Henderson, n.d.).

Easing into the Workforce

For many mothers, reentering the workforce after taking time off to raise children can be daunting. The gig economy offers a low-barrier entry point for mothers seeking to return to work or transition into new career paths. With minimal startup costs and flexible work arrangements, gig work provides a supportive environment for mothers to ease back into the workforce on their terms. (Ashford et al., 2018).

Challenges of the Gig Economy

Career development professionals can support clients through the challenges of the gig economy by offering guidance on navigating income instability, accessing benefits like healthcare and retirement, managing work-life balance, and adapting to changes in the market. This involves providing strategies for budgeting and financial planning, connecting clients with resources, boundary-setting skills, and fostering a mindset of adaptability and self-care to thrive in a dynamic work environment.

Lack of Benefits

One significant hurdle for contractors is often the lack of benefits typically provided by traditional employment. To address this, the contractor may want to explore options for obtaining benefits independently. This could involve purchasing a health insurance plan, setting up a retirement savings account like a solo 401(k) or IRA. Additionally, researching professional organizations or related associations may identify those that offer group benefits to members. Budgeting accordingly to account for expenses such as healthcare, retirement savings, and paid time off is crucial in managing this aspect of contracting.

Managing Taxes as an Independent Worker

Another challenge for contractors is understanding and managing taxes effectively. To tackle this, it is essential to keep meticulous records of income and expenses throughout the year. Utilize software or apps designed for contractors to track finances accurately. Contractors can become familiar with tax deductions and credits available to self-employed individuals, such as deductions for home office expenses, business-related travel, and equipment purchases. Consider consulting with a tax professional who specializes in working with self-employed individuals to ensure taking advantage of all available tax breaks while staying compliant with tax laws. Finally, creating a separate bank account for taxes that need to be paid can be beneficial.

Isolation as an Independent Worker

The sense of not being part of a traditional company structure can lead to feelings of isolation. To address this, it is important to build a strong professional network, attend industry events, join social media groups, and seek out mentorship opportunities to connect with peers in the industry. Cultivate relationships with other contractors and freelancers who can provide support and guidance based on their own experiences. Contractors can also take advantage of online resources and communities geared towards independent workers, such as websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and LinkedIn. By proactively addressing these challenges, contractors can better navigate the realities of the gig economy and create a sustainable career path.

Career development professionals can assist clients in preparing for a job in the gig economy by educating them by:

  • exploring, assessing and developing skills
  • helping build a professional brand and network
  • providing guidance on financial planning and managing irregular income
  • promoting work-life balance and self-care
  • supporting the process of adapting to the evolving landscape of the gig economy
  • incorporating resources and strategies for networking, marketing, office environment, and industry trends into the education, preparation, and plan

Istock 1445679357 Credit Peopleimages

Empowering Mothers to Thrive

The professional gig economy holds promise for mothers looking to achieve a better work-life balance, pursue their passions, and secure financial stability for their families. By offering flexibility, autonomy, and diverse opportunities for professional growth, the gig economy empowers mothers to thrive in both their careers and their roles as caregivers. As the gig economy continues to evolve, mothers will play a vital role in shaping their future, contributing their unique skills, perspectives, and experiences to the workforce. 



Ashford, S., Pertriglieri, G. & Wrzesniewski, A. (March/April 2018). Thriving in the gig economy. Harvard Business Review.  https://hbr.org/2018/03/thriving-in-the-gig-economy  

Henderson, R. (n.d). 5 ways the gig economy can work for working mothers. Recruiter.com https://www.recruiter.com/recruiting/5-ways-the-gig-economy-can-work-for-working-mothers/ 

McKinsey & Company. (August 2023). What is the gig economy? https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-explainers/what-is-the-gig-economy#

Wilson, N. (February 2023). Flexibility and earning potential, two lures of the gig economy. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/nigelwilson/2023/02/15/flexibility-and-earning-potential-two-lures-of-the-gig-economy/?sh=1750c12c4db0 



Sarah KellySarah Kelly. With 20+ years of experience in the tech industry, Sarah understands the pressures of the modern career world firsthand. She has worked as an entrepreneur and built a business from ground up to six figures. Sarah earned a BA from Fordham University, a MBA from Simmons College and recently completed her Facilitating Career Development Certification. Sarah can be reached at sarah@changingtidescoach.com


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Linda Sollars   on Sunday 06/02/2024 at 12:16 AM

Sarah, such a timely article as the gig economy is growing and reshaping depending on needs, particularly after COVID. The ability to set up a work schedule that provides the ability to learn and grow as well as balance family and life is becoming the norm, thankfully.

Carol Van Rhein    on Sunday 06/02/2024 at 10:05 AM

While in many families, parenting tasks are primarily facilitated by women, more and more men are realizing the value of their KSAa as a parent and adopting the role of primary caregiver, especially in instances where the woman earn the higher income. Merely replacing the word "mother" with "parent" in the valuable and timely article allows a mindset that equally applies this information to dads who may have been displaced due to the pandemic. Thanks for providing this guidance that allows us to better support all parents working to navigate this post-Covid economy.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.