The Jury Talks Back

2/11/2018

Bad News: If You Use Uber Then You Are a Sexist Pig

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 4:00 pm

That’s the only rational conclusion that could possibly be drawn from a study showing that Uber users pay less to female drivers than to male drivers. Well, isn’t it? MIT Technology Review:

Uber’s formula for paying drivers is causing a gender gap

Uber uses a master algorithm to determine how much money its drivers make—and women are ending up with less.

The gap: In a study released today of over 1.8 million drivers on the platform, women were found to earn $1.24 per hour less than men. Women also earned $130 less per week on average…

You’ll never believe this: it turns out there are reasons for this besides sexism!

The story offers several explanations for the pay gap that have nothing to do with gender. For example, here is the entire sentence that I ended with an ellipse at the end of that quote: “Women also earned $130 less per week on average, in part because they tend to drive fewer hours.” And here are the other possible causes noted in the piece:

The cause: The study, which was carried out by researchers at Stanford and Uber and has not undergone peer review, attributed the difference in pay to fact that male Uber drivers:

—Are more likely to drive in higher-paying locations

—Drive faster

—Take on trips with shorter distances to the rider

—Chose to drive longer trips

All of these are variables in the formula Uber uses to calculate driver wages, and the study showed they all tilted in men’s favor (the study claims men earn $21.28 an hour, on average). Women also have higher turnover on the platform, and more experienced drivers tend to get higher pay.

The article doesn’t actually try to claim that Uber’s users are sexist — that was just my sardonic headline. But the article does try to portray this as Uber’s algorithm somehow being sexist, saying the formula is somehow “tilted in men’s favor.” But it’s not as though Uber monkeyed with their algorithm to create sexist variables that are unrelated to user satisfaction. People who use Uber will pay more for drivers in higher paying locations. They will pay more for longer trips. More customers are served when drivers drive faster. And so forth. It’s not a function of sexist algorithms. It’s a function of the way the world works. I can’t tell you why males drive longer trips or drive faster and so forth. But apparently they do.

And so the Uber algorithm turns out to be a microcosm of the world. Yes, there is a pay gap. No, it is not explained primarily by sexism. When factors unrelated to bias against women are controlled for, it virtually disappears. Not totally — but pretty damned close.

This is widely known, but people keep forgetting it. The Obama White House decried the gender pay gap and yet had one of its own. If you decry it, but you are an Uber user, then you too are part of the problem!!!

Men and women are different. Stop saying that the pay gap is because people hate women — unless you’re prepared to turn your ire on yourself.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

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