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UChicago economists helped lead a study that found men working for the ride-sharing platform Uber earned about 7 percent more per hour than women.
Workers in the growing "gig" economy—work done on a contract or freelance basis—have flexibility that some experts speculated could favor women. Yet despite Uber's gender-blind algorithm for work assignments, the study of nearly two million U.S. drivers found the wage gap resulted from three factors: experience using the Uber platform, preferences over where and when to work, and the willingness of men to drive faster—and ultimately complete more trips.
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"When starting the research we could see it going either way: Women might earn a bit less because they would want to work at specific, and potentially less lucrative, times that fit their other obligations better. Alternatively, women tend to work fewer hours so they might have a chance to cherry pick and focus their hours during the most lucrative times," said John A. List, the Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor in Economics at UChicago, a co-author of the working paper released Feb. 6. "The value of learning on the job and the importance of driving speed, and how such forces affect the genders differently, was surprising."
List and economists at Stanford University and Uber examined the driving records of 1.8 million drivers in 196 U.S. cities, more than 500,000 of whom (about 27 percent) were female. Men in the study earned $21.28 an hour while women were paid $20.04 an hour—a larger gap than found in previous studies of pharmacists and MBA graduates. Although there doesn't appear to be anything built into Uber's platform that would favor men, the...
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