I think this is instructive:
Study of 1 million Uber drivers. Uber doesn’t pay based on sex or gender. But male Uber drivers make 7% more than female drivers. The study was conducted before Uber had in-app tipping, but other studies have shown that generally women drivers are tipped more than men.
A great number of people, maybe you’re one of them, have difficulty reconciling this data. If Uber is sex- and gender-blind in their pay and if women are generally tipped more than men, how is it that men are making 7% more?
There are three answers, but what it all comes down to is choices.
- Men and women drive in different areas. People tend to drive around where they live and men and women live in different areas. If we control for home location, men are more often driving in areas with bars (and crime) and receive a compensating differential for this. The implication is that safety concerns are leading women drivers to not frequent these areas even though they are more financially lucrative.
- More experienced drivers make more money. They learn where and when to go to certain places to make more money. Drivers with more than 2500 trips make on average 14% more than drivers with less than 100 trips. The average male driver is higher on the learning curve—he’s simply more experienced than the average woman driver.
- Men tend to drive faster than women (both on Uber and in general). Uber incentivizes speed. Yes, Uber pays for both time and distance, but it’s almost always more lucrative for drivers to drive fast and get another trip in than it is to drive slow and take more time.
If we take these three factors into account the Uber’s driver pay differential between men and women is zero.
This is a good example of something I’ve said before: disparity is not discrimination, and we need to not conflate the two. Disparity can be a problem, but we need to be careful and nuanced before ascribing evil to every instance we find. If women Uber drivers want to drive in safer areas, drive not as often, and drive more safely even though they’ll make about 7% less, I’m not one to tell them they’re wrong, and I’m not sure that anyone else ought be telling them either.