Without Discrimination, the Gender Pay Gap at Uber Is Only 7 Percent

Laura Dale/PA Wire via ZUMA

A new paper with access to Uber’s massive database of driver records concludes that female drivers earn 7 percent less than male drivers. Why? Mostly because women drive more slowly than men.

There are a couple of other factors as well that are tied to experience, and that’s interesting enough by itself. But the authors call their result “surprising,” and I think that’s the wrong conclusion. The proper conclusion is that in a job that pays via algorithm and has no special rewards for working long hours, the gender gap is only 7 percent. That’s what you get when there’s no opportunity for discrimination.

In the rest of the world, of course, the gender pay gap is about 19 percent. The usual estimate is that less than a third of this is due to outright discrimination, but the Uber data suggests that it might be more than we think. Perhaps it’s more like 12 percentage points from discrimination and, like Uber, about 7 percentage points from other causes. Food for thought.