Yesterday I sat through one of those “Where are the Women in Profession X?” panels. In this case the profession was speechwriting. Someone asked a question about women freelancers and one of the panelists – an executive recruiter (female) – replied that women “opt out” of corporate jobs because they have babies and rich husbands. My hand shot up the air so fast I nearly dislocated my shoulder.
I have been a freelance speechwriter for over 25 years – and, I should note, I’ve been a woman for far longer than that. I have awards and an enviable client list, but I have never had a rich husband. Or children.
It’s true I didn’t exactly choose this life at first. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “Some have freelancing thrust upon them.” But once I was in the game, I made the choice to stay. I love it – the freedom to create my own schedule, the range of subjects I get to address. Rather than focusing on one company in one industry, I get to explore many.
About a year into my freelance career, an executive recruiter called about an in-house speechwriting job. My quick “no, thank you” surprised him. Maybe he assumed, like the woman on yesterday’s panel, that I was knee-deep in diapers – or diamonds. (Or both. With a rich husband, why choose just one?) I told him, “I just like knowing that when somebody barks at me, it’s only my dog.”
I’m not a freelancer by default; I’m a freelancer on purpose. I chose this career because it feeds me. How about you?