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The Rise of Online Work Is Good For Women, New Survey Says

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More and more of us will work remotely and on a freelance basis, predict the pundits. A new Elance survey suggests that might be great news for women in tech.

By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

Look to the future of work and what do you see? Jobs for life are nearly extinct already, so it’s a good bet that we’re heading to more gig-based work, and with constant connectivity, it’s also likely that more and more of us will work primarily online rather than in an office (notable exceptions like Marissa Mayer’s recent decision to kill telecommuting at Yahoo! notwithstanding).

This remote work and freelancer–heavy future may be no revelation, but another prediction about this vision of things to come is less discussed and more controversial – it’s a future, some say, better suited to the talents and needs of women.

A new survey is further stoking this debate, but the research from Elance didn’t initiate the discussion. Freelancer journalist Susannah Breslin has argued this point on Inc.com, noting that for reasons of nature or nurture women tend to be more empathetic, creative and able to tolerate a lifestyle that is long on unpredictability and short on day-to-day ego-boosting accolades. Meanwhile Lindsey Donner has explored how these upheavals in the way we work might be good for women on Young Entrepreneur Council.

“When you’re working with an empty canvas, the only limits are imaginary,” she concludes.

Now, a new survey of some 7,000 professionals worldwide from online gigs marketplace Elance is adding some numbers to this conversation and demonstrating that this belief in a female-friendly future of work is more widespread than a few starry-eyed columnists. The survey found:

  • 65% of women who work online say the diversity of projects provides them with more learning opportunities and helps them strengthening their skills.
  • 60% of women say online work enables them to easily manage their personal and professional lives.
  • 60% of women say finding work online is easier than competing for a full-time job.

“For women in tech, online work is a level playing field where merit and results rule,” Elance CEO Fabio Rosati said in a release accompanying the findings. “Online work provides an attractive avenue to neutralize gender discrimination around the world and  create flexible professional opportunities not available in traditional job markets.”

His comments parallel claims by advocates of crowdfunding that — much like dispersed and tech-enabled work — this dispersed and tech-enabled means to funding will also ease barriers for women to access funding.

Women 2.0 readers: Do you agree that more freelance and online work will be good for women in tech?

Jessica Stillman is an editor at Women 2.0 and a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM and Brazen Careerist, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @entrylevelrebel.

Photo credit: CarbonNYC via Flickr.