With flexible on-demand roles, women have been able to make strides in roles that are traditionally male-dominated
By Vineet Arya
Not just limited content creators and blue-collar workforce, the gig economy is a trend that is steadily growing due to its flexibility and potential for financial security. Also known as the expert on-demand economy, where companies are engaging experts to perform certain tasks while allowing them to get the work done at a fraction of the cost, companies are actively retaining top talent.
While one may consider the gig economy as limited to blue-workforce roles such as delivery executives and cab drivers, gig jobs those performed by individuals on a temporary basis — the reason this is called “gig” is because of the short-term nature of these projects where one can work for multiple companies at one time.
Further, technology, finances and marketing executives are among the most in-demand experts in today’s world. This is owing to every company’s role in shaping the future of business, especially within a digital context. With a growing focus on digital transformation, experts have been called upon to provide insights or even develop capabilities that can help them stay ahead of their competition.
As a result of this trend, the number of requests for C-level gig executives, and/or experts on-demand has increased exponentially over the last few years. For example, several US-based companies either already have some offices in India or planning to venture into the country. This requires experienced (and local) professionals, leading to an enhanced demand for such professionals, making it easier to get business for many experts in the country — who can take flexible roles, and high paychecks.
Expert on-demand economy for women
As the C-suite gig economy or the expert on-demand role is all set to revolutionise the way people work in India, traditional jobs are giving away space to this new way of entrepreneurship. For instance, many Indian companies are actively encouraging women to work on a flexible basis, instead of discouraging them.
Experts suggest that the on-demand economy is a huge opportunity, especially for women entrepreneurs in India. In fact, according to a recent report by Emerce Insight, the number of female experts in the on-demand sector is steadily growing.
An expert on-demand is anyone who is paid for a share of their knowledge and experience with the payer. These could be thought leaders, successful businesspersons, and most importantly, domain leaders. Being an expert on-demand not only means that you get paid for said engagements, but also the opportunity to build a personal brand and create authority around yourself.
Addressing the gender disparity
As the on-demand economy is gaining popularity, women are also making their presence felt in this new business domain — with an advantage of opportunities being created for on-demand services and make a living while enjoying more flexibility in their lives.
Now they can choose to work when they want and how much they want, thanks to flexible working hours and schedules offered by most companies who want on-demand experts.
Many of them can earn just as much as men if not more than men do in traditional jobs — addressing the gender-influenced pay and representation disparity in senior expert roles visible in India today.
The number of women in executive and/or leadership roles is still alarmingly low. In the US, it’s only 22%, and in the UK, 26% — at 11%, the number is much lower in India. Women in IT and engineering roles are in even shorter supply, with only 16% of women in executive roles in these fields.
With flexible on-demand roles, women have been able to make strides in roles that are traditionally male-dominated — finance, marketing and IT.
Especially in marketing roles, women are also becoming sought-after experts, with their platforms and loyal audiences who value the insight they bring to the table every day. As women, they have been an advantage as an expert because of their perspectives, not only on traditionally feminine topics such as motherhood, fashion, health, beauty, but also on inclusion, diversity and equality.
Reality far from perception
Interestingly, while the topic on hand sounds like a scale, tipping in favour of women with the much-needed flexibility amid traditional Indian families and greater responsibilities, reports suggest that they are not taking advantage of the on-demand and C-suite gig economy opportunity in the same way men are — even though the impact of technology on high-skill roles has been gender-neutral.
Although there is no database available on the C-suite gig economy in the country, occupational discrimination has been observed based on gender stereotypes. Some estimates suggest that women account for only 15% of independent experts and consultants.
(The author is founder, COHIRE. Views expressed are personal.)