Platform Inequality: Gender in the Gig-Economy

39 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2017 Last revised: 9 Oct 2017

See all articles by Arianne Renan Barzilay

Arianne Renan Barzilay

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law

Anat Ben-David

Open University of Israel

Date Written: February 16, 2017

Abstract

Laboring in the new economy has recently drawn tremendous social, legal, and political debate. The changes created by platform-facilitated labor are considered fundamental challenges to the future of work and are generating contestation regarding the proper classification of laborers as employees or independent contractors. Yet, despite this growing debate, attention to gender dimensions of such laboring is currently lacking. This Article considers the gendered promises and challenges that are associated with platform-facilitated labor, and provides an innovative empirical analysis of gender discrepancies in such labor; it conducts a case study of platform-facilitated labor using computational methods that capture some of the gendered interactions hosted by a digital platform.

These empirical findings demonstrate that although women work for more hours on the platform, women’s average hourly rates are significantly lower than men’s, averaging about 2/3 (two-thirds) of men’s rates. Such gaps in hourly rates persist even after controlling for feedback score, experience, occupational category, hours of work, and educational attainment. These findings suggest we are witnessing the remaking of women into devalued workers. They point to the new ways in which sex inequality is occurring in platform-facilitated labor. They suggest that we are beholding a third generation of sex inequality, termed “Discrimination 3.0,” in which discrimination is no longer merely a function of formal barriers or even implicit biases. The Article sketches Equality-by-Design (EbD) as a possible direction for future redress, through the enlisting of platform technology to enhance gender parity. In sum, this Article provides an empirical base and analysis for understanding the new ways sex inequality is taking hold in platform-facilitated labor.

Suggested Citation

Renan Barzilay, Arianne and Ben-David, Anat, Platform Inequality: Gender in the Gig-Economy (February 16, 2017). Seton Hall Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 393, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2995906 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2995906

Arianne Renan Barzilay (Contact Author)

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905
Israel

Anat Ben-David

Open University of Israel

1 University Road
Tel-Aviv, 61392
Israel

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