Women as Independent Workers in the Gig Economy

49 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2021

See all articles by Liya Palagashvili

Liya Palagashvili

George Mason University - Mercatus Center; State University of New York (SUNY) - Purchase College, Department of Economics

Paola Suarez

Seton Hall University; George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 29, 2021


New technologies and digital platforms have ushered in a rise of gig, freelance, contract, and other types of independent work. Although independent workers and the gig economy as a whole have received plenty of attention, little research has examined the heterogeneity of work characteristics among different independent work opportunities, specifically as it relates to the participation of women in this workforce. Existing data indicate that some digital platforms are more male dominated, whereas others are more female dominated. What accounts for these differences? In this paper, we empirically examine the heterogeneity of work within independent work opportunities in relation to female participation by analyzing work characteristics in the United States from the Occupational Information Network (O*Net) database that reflect greater temporal flexibility, which has been shown to vary across occupations and to attract more female workers. Our findings suggest that women in the independent work context do self-select into the types of independent work jobs that reflect greater temporal flexibility, as is the case for women working in traditional employment. However, our findings also reveal that the way in which the existing literature measures temporal flexibility in traditional work settings may not be the same as the way it is measured in the context of independent work. We discuss the implications of our findings for public policy and labor laws.

Keywords: Female labor force participation, gig economy, independent workers, alternative work arrangements, gender differences, self-employment

JEL Classification: J01, J08, J16, J4

Suggested Citation

Palagashvili, Liya and Suarez, Paola, Women as Independent Workers in the Gig Economy (March 29, 2021). Mercatus Working Paper Series, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3815975 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3815975

Liya Palagashvili (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

State University of New York (SUNY) - Purchase College, Department of Economics ( email )

735 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
United States

Paola Suarez

Seton Hall University ( email )

400 South Orange Avenue
Stillman School of Business, JH 627
South Orange, NJ New Jersey 07079
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.PaolaSuarez.net

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

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