Knowing Your Worth: It's Time for Self Employed Women to Stop Paying Themselves Less

Women are generally more motivated by purpose than money, in other words they put purpose over profit. But at what cost?

by Alisa Kunzelmann, July 26, 2023
Self Employed Women pay

Let’s talk about money!

Growing up, my mom was my role model. Always helpful, empathetic and kind, putting other people’s needs first, frugal, never complaining or needing anything for herself. In other words, she was and did what was expected of her as a good woman.

After my parents' divorce, my mom had to start her life again at the age of 50, starting from zero. Despite being a medical doctor, psychotherapist and having countless other qualifications and years of experience, she charged very little for her work and struggled to get by.

When I decided to become self-employed, I found myself repeating this pattern. I believed that I needed to offer my services at very low prices or for free because after all, I was a good person, and I didn’t want to exploit anyone. I also believed I wasn’t good enough or worthy to charge more.

Unfortunately, this is a common pattern among women.

New research discovered a wage gap of 28% among self-employed women and men (*Research Now, US). Self-employed professionals are their own boss and can set their own rates, so what's going on?

So why does this earnings gap exist?

While the issue is complex, one factor is that women often have shadows around money and what they’re worth.

Internalized gender norms and expectations have a profound impact on how women perceive themselves and their capabilities. These beliefs often lead women to undervalue their skills and services, feeling that they do not deserve to be paid at the same level as their male counterparts.

This is due to a long history of being secondary citizens and not having access to paid work and money themselves.

Furthermore, the sense of obligation to care for others, often still instilled in women from a young age, can also lead to self-sacrificing behavior that does not prioritize financial independence.

As a result, many women struggle financially, feeling trapped in a cycle of undervaluing their work and remaining financially dependent.

This situation is not only detrimental to the individual's financial well-being, but it also has significant implications for the economy and society as a whole. When women earn less, it affects their ability to invest in their businesses, to support their families, and shape the broader economy.

We live in a world where money is power. When women don’t demand their fair share for their work, it will be very hard to create balanced systems.

Women are generally more motivated by purpose than money, in other words they put purpose over profit.

However, profit and purpose don’t have to and should not be mutually exclusive.

I wondered what if women all over the world learned to see their true value, step into their power, and reshape our world into a more just and balanced one?

To address this issue, we need to challenge these gender norms and beliefs and empower women to recognize their true value. We need to create a culture that supports women in pursuing their financial goals and recognizes the importance of financial independence. We need to equip women with the tools and resources to manage their money and build their businesses.

I believe that by empowering women, we can create a ripple effect that benefits not only individuals but also society as a whole.

That's why I made it my mission to help self-employed women move from financial struggle and internalized gender roles that keep them small and disempowered towards balanced, fulfilling, and financially empowered lives.

About the Author

alisa gunzelmann

Alisa Gunzelmann is the co-founder of Re-gnosis I The Coaching Concept, psychologist, empowerment & mental fitness coach and mindfulness meditation teacher. She helps purpose-driven women step into their full power and build self-belief, so that they can authentically grow, thrive and create the life their heart knows is possible.