Women might be outnumbered in tech, but there’s one area where we outnumber the dudes: virtual freelancing.

Yes, according to one study, women make up 55 percent of the online marketplace of freelancers. Data from talent firm Zinnov show the online talent pool is between 4.5 and 5 million strong, with more than half that number being composed of women.

Other stats from the same study show the market of female freelancers is growing quickly, with more than 100 percent growth in the women online freelancer population during 2011. While women currently make up less than half the overall workforce, Zinnov said its study showed women more willing to work virtually to give themselves a better work/life balance. In fact, some sites, such as Shelancers, focus exclusively on the needs of female freelancers (although for employers, using such a site may violate employment law, but hey, it’s a nice thought).

Altogether, the study concludes that between 10 and 15 percent of the total workforce could be composed of virtual freelancers over the next several years, with strong support from women workers.

Around 40 to 45 percent of the online talent pool is based in the United States, the study showed, with between 12 and 15 percent of online freelancers calling India home. Canada and China are also hubs for virtual freelancers.

As far as job types are concerned, the vast majority of jobs and fastest-growing verticals for online work are multimedia (including web design), writing and editing, and technology jobs such as web programming. Zinnov expects to see niche skill sets such as SEO and mobile development continue to increase in popularity and demand.

Using online or virtual freelance help is a relatively new phenomenon that we’ve talked about in some detail in the recent past. Online freelancers are more affordable for small businesses and can give a lot of flexibility to newer companies, especially cash-poor, bootstrapped startups.

To get the data for this study, Zinnov analyzed 30 of the largest marketplaces for virtual freelance talent, including powerhouses like Elance, oDesk, and Freelance.com. The research showed the marketplace trending toward $1 billion by the end of 2012, with Elance, Guru, and oDesk claiming the lion’s share of those transactions and jobs.

Top image courtesy of ostill, Shutterstock

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