A 'gender pay gap' exists in anonymous online gig economy marketplaces

Academics have discovered a ‘gender pay gap’ in online marketplaces where workers do not reveal their gender.

A team from Columbia University found that women’s hourly earnings were 10% below men’s in one sector of the ‘gig economy’ in which jobseekers take up casual, short-term employment.

They analysed data from the Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) platform, an online service that connects employers to workers who perform ‘human intelligence tasks’.

Researchers crunched data relating to 20,000 men and women who completed five million tasks.

The study was hailed as the ‘first to prove that pay gaps can arise despite the absence of overt discrimination, labour segregation, and inflexible work arrangements’.

‘Our goal was to examine a highly unique labour environment, characterized by factors that should make this labour market relatively immune to the emergence of a gender pay gap,’ said Lisa Bates, ScD, assistant professor of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School.

‘Nevertheless, our results showed evidence of a gender wage gap not fully accounted for by such factors as task heterogeneity, experience, and task completion speed.

‘This study represents an important and novel contribution to the literature on the gender pay gap.

‘Future research should explore the observed gender pay gap in this niche of the gig economy and seek to understand how it may both reflect broader gender inequalities and point to opportunities for structural remedies.’

The team was not able to unequivocally blame sexism for the pay gap, because workers are able to withhold their personal information and remain anonymous – meaning employers did not know their gender

‘Due to factors that are unique to the Mechanical Turk online marketplace – such as anonymity, self-selection into tasks, the relative homogeneity of the tasks performed, and flexible work scheduling – we did not expect earnings to differ by gender on this platform,’ said Zohn Rosen, PhD.

However, contrary to our expectations, a robust and persistent gender pay gap was observed.’

The team pored over data relating to five million tasks completed during an 18-month period between January 2016 and June 2017 by 12,312 female and 9,959 male workers from 2014.

Men completed 2,396,978 (49%) and women finished 2,539,229 (51%) .

The ‘pay gap’ appears to have been caused by women choosing jobs which have a lower hourly rate of pay, the academics suggested.

So why does the shortfall exist?

Leib Litman, PhD, co-author and associate professor at Touro College, said experiences of ‘discrimination’ may be to blame.

‘Women may select lower-paying tasks because cumulative experiences of pervasive discrimination lead women to undervalue their labour,’ he said.

‘In turn, women’s experiences with earning lower pay compared to men on traditional labor markets may lower women’s pay expectations on gig economy markets.

‘Therefore, consistent with these lowered expectations, women may be more likely than men to settle for lower-paying tasks.’

Source: Read Full Article