Gig Markets Show Evidence of Wage Discrimination

Published on: 06 Jul, 2018

It has been known that there is a gender wage gap among full-time salary and hourly wage workers. In the world of online platforms, where wages are usually established equally for a given task, regardless of the gender, there is still discrimination in wages.

A study by economists from Stanford University and the University of Chicago, which used data from more than a million Uber drivers, discovered a 7% hourly earnings gap between men and women on the ride-sharing platform.

Researchers have discovered that almost half of the gap was because male workers typically drive faster. They also are more likely to have stuck with the app for a longer period of time, which allows them to gather skills that boost their productivity. Male drivers also tend to drive in area that can be more profitable, like those with more liquor stores or higher crime rates, which female drivers avoid.

However, these discoveries aren’t new among studies of non-traditional work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, male independent contractors make 21.5% more per week than female independent contractors, and men in temporary jobs make about 15% more than women per week.

Another study from 2016, using a different source of data, discovered a significant earnings gap between self-employed men and women. It showed that many women reported gender discrimination and felt like they felt obligated to charge less than men in order to “win” clients.

According to Shelly Steward, who studies the gig economy at the Aspen Institute, states that there is a gap in the independent contractor earnings because women tend to treat lower-wage contract work as extra income, rather than a more profitable primary income.

Although men and women do the same type of work, driving for Uber for example, factors like where they live and their willingness for risk, can increase the gap of earnings. There is still room for optimism however, a lot of the gender-based wage inequality comes from a difference in experience, signifying that women could increase their earnings by simply sticking with the app longer and picking up more skills from it.


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William Kim



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