Researchers: For Uber drivers, 'learning-by-doing' part of gender pay disparity
- A research study of the earnings of one million U.S. Uber drivers published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found a gender earnings gap between male and female drivers of about 7% — of which on-the-job learning (defined as experience on the platform) is one of three contributing causes, according to researchers.
- Researchers said the study focused on the question of whether independent work has helped women advance economically. Although some suspect that the increase of flexible work hours offered by the gig economy would favor women, "We do not find that men and women are differentially affected by a taste for specific hours, a return to within-week intensity, or customer discrimination," researchers said.
- Contributing factors to the discrepancy may be that men tend to drive faster, are more amenable to working in lucrative areas (such as those with higher levels of crime or near liquor stores) and have spent more time on the job, accumulating more skills to boost productivity. They study's authors concluded that there is "no reason to expect the 'gig' economy to close gender differences."
While some data suggests gender equality in hiring is improving for women, total equality remains elusive in much of the business world. As more workers look to remote, part-time or contract work to provide flexibility and income, policies — including training policies — have yet to keep pace. An estimated 60% of the workforce could be independent contractors by 2027.
From Uber drivers to highly skilled workers in tech and STEM careers, the playing field remains unequal for women. Some point to a bro-culture, while others suggest pervasive gender stereotypes continue to keep women’s wages below their male counterparts. As part of establishing a solid company culture, employee development programs should focus in part on enabling women to advance in an organization at an equal rate.
Because of this, more companies are looking to sponsor or mentor women specifically to ensure they have equal access to opportunities, including positions with higher pay. Employers want to be careful not to make it seem as though women need more assistance to become leaders, experts say, but formal structures that support minority groups can go a long way in establishing parity.
- National Bureau of Economic Research The Gender Earnings Gap in the Gig Economy: Evidence from over a Million Rideshare Drivers