Female Uber Drivers Earn $1.24 per Hour Less Than Men, Study Says

Uber says it doesn’t discriminate against women.

byStephen Edelstein| PUBLISHED Feb 7, 2018 12:59 PM
Female Uber Drivers Earn $1.24 per Hour Less Than Men, Study Says

Women who drive for Uber earn roughly 7 percent less per hour than men, according to a new study based on earnings data from over a million Uber drivers. The study found that women earn an average $1.24 less than men, and $130 less per week, partly because they drive slower.

The study was a joint effort by the University of Chicago, Stanford University, and Uber's own economic team. Researchers examined earnings data from 1.8 million Uber drivers, roughly 27 percent of which were women.

On the corporate level, Uber has been criticized for a toxic workplace environment where sexual harassment of women was tolerated, but the company has always maintained that the algorithms it uses to determine wages ignore gender, race, and sexuality. However, Uber's attempts to be gender-blind did not account for differences in driver behavior.

The study found that male drivers were more likely to drive in higher-paying locations, drive faster, accept trips with shorter distances to the rider, and accept trips that involved more driving. All of these factors are taken into account when calculating driver wages. The study also found that women have a higher turnover rate at Uber; drivers who have been around longer tend to get higher pay.

In a blog post, Uber said the study produced "no evidence that outright discrimination, either by the app or by riders, is driving the gender earnings gap." But the fact that a gap exists at all is a problem, one that may not be easy to solve.

"I think this is showing that the gender pay gap is not likely to go away completely anytime soon," Stanford University professor Rebecca Diamond, one of the study's authors, said in a Freakonomics interview. "Unless somehow, things in our broader society really change, about how men and women are making choices about their broader lives, than just the labor market."

John List, Uber's chief economist, University of Chicago professor, and lead author of the study, said that women have to deal with various "constraints" that don't allow them to work as many hours as men, such as being responsible for picking up kids from school.

In the same interview, Jonathan Hall, Uber's director of public policy, said a 7 percent increase in baseline pay for women drivers would be "discriminatory," adding that "simple-sounding solutions don't always work." He called for a "scientific approach" to addressing the gender pay gap and continued collaboration with both academics and other companies.