Patterico's Pontifications


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

Filed under: General — 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 and The Jury Talks Back.]

31 Responses to “Bad News: If You Use Uber Then You Are a Sexist Pig”

  1. Making less money as an independent contractor for working less and working less productively is sexist! And racist! Racists!

    nk (dbc370)

  2. Because that’s what the study really shows. That Uber’s women drivers do not work as hard or as productively as Uber’s men drivers. The money they make is the measure, and the best measure at that.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. Part of life is tradeoffs. When I first starting legal practice, I purposefully chose a firm that would allow me to have a life (not much of one, but a life) outside of work. For that, I had to accept a pay cut relative to my classmates who were willing to work 90 hour weeks.

    My impression is that more women were willing to make the same tradeoff — if not right away, certainly three to six years into the practice, when people start marrying and having families.

    This is called being an adult — you make choices, and accept the consequences of your choices. Rarely do you have the luxury of having your cake and eating it too.

    Bored Lawyer (fe5e63)

  4. uber is sexist cause of american millennial snowflake women are so hysterically convinced they’re going to be raped every 6.2 seconds that they abjure uber cause of how uber lets some of their drivers have penises

    this is a real thing lol

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  5. 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.

    You’ve misidentified the problem. People, including the researchers themselves, know there is a difference. This is obvious. The problem is you’re simply not allowed to say it.

    Any researcher who states the obvious knows they will be out of a job. Ask James Damore.

    random viking (6a54c2)

  6. Missing the forest for the trees…10 years ago, how many less women total were driving for hire, and now there is less of a stranglehold (in many urban areas) of this function by hyperpatriarchal groups then before uber and lyft.

    urbanleftbehind (9adb35)

  7. Our Windy City barrister wrote:

    Making less money as an independent contractor for working less and working less productively is sexist! And racist! Racists!

    But, but, but, no one appears to have mentioned the sexual orientation of the Uber drivers! I’ll bet that they know, and if the secrets were ever released, we’d find that homosexual male Uber drivers make less than normal heterosexual women, and lesbians the least of all.

    It’s homophobic!

    The Dana who spotted the missing part of the equation (dc5bf0)

  8. Women now feel safer being drivers since Uber keeps track of who they are picking up.

    kaf (d7a519)

  9. Piece work, which is what cab driving is, has been anathema to the left for as long as I can remember. They don’t want pay tied to productivity at all. It’s un-egalitarian. When we still had factories, “rate-busters” were looked at askance, not only out of envy because they got a bonus for exceeding the collective agreement base rate, but also because the bosses might use their performance as the base in the next contract negotiations.

    nk (dbc370)

  10. the CNN Jake Tapper fake news propaganda sluts made up a whitefish scandal out of whole cloth

    on the one hand the CNN sluts genuinely don’t understand how contracts work

    but on the other hand they’re responsible for vastly prolonging the misery of the puerto rican people

    mayor titty tee should get a shirt what says BLAME CNN on her saggy boobies

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  11. ironically more and more “journalism” is piecework anymore Mr. nk if the newsweek meltdown is any indication

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  12. The algorithm was created by Dr. Zola obviously.

    Re black panther, what if instead of embracing dubois, the African community had chosen to adopt booker t’s pragmatism born of experience and scientific innovation, rather than German philosophy.

    narciso (d1f714)

  13. @ nk (#2): I agree 100% And doesn’t the study also show that any individual woman, should she so choose, could make as much or more as the average man makes simply by working as hard as the average man? And that if she chooses to work as hard and productively as the men in the top 5%, she can do that as well?

    Beldar (fa637a)

  14. Beldar, I don’t Uber but I know people who do. The best money is the bar scene on Friday and Saturday nights, from 9 pm to 2 am. Lots of people, short trips, many trips, and “surge” rates. I wouldn’t do it, and I understand why few women would.

    nk (dbc370)

  15. you’re much more likely to get shot by a chicago cop or molested by a chicago teacher than you are to be raped by a chicago uber driver

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  16. Is that a plus or a minus, happyfeet?

    nk (dbc370)

  17. So, a woman controls her body to perform at whatever level, but it is a man’s fault for controlling his in a slightly more efficient manner?

    I thought it was all about body choices?

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  18. you have to live strong (yellow bracelet) and you can’t let yourself be ruled by baseless fears is all i mean

    uber’s a wonderful tool for women it helps them get out of the genuinely risky situation

    scaring women about uber makes them less free and this is a great sadness 🙁

    after uber was banned in Austin date rapes went up 715%

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  19. Patterico, your link, “MIT Technology Review” doesn’t work.

    Tillman (a95660)

  20. (In voice of that Brit nitwit who interviewed Jordan Peterson)

    “So you’re saying women should not be allowed to drive…”

    harkin (75fedf)

  21. Pfft, I found the article and it doesn’t make the claim that anything about Uber is sexist. Most people, I would think, if they’re smart enough to be reading articles from MIT, they’ll read the whole article – in this case about 1 page – rather than just the headline. (That may be too much reading for Captain Chaos, however.)
    Here is an important part you didn’t mention:

    Though it wasn’t covered in the study, one reason women may avoid higher-paying areas is that they don’t feel safe—they may opt not to drive late at night in certain places, for instance, or stay away from neighborhoods that are considered dangerous.

    Tillman (a95660)

  22. The lie is in the headline, Mr. Tillman: “Uber’s formula[or algorithm] for paying drivers is causing a gender gap.” You have to read the whole article to realize that the formula or algorithm is “equal pay for equal work”. Equal pay for equal work! What a sexist, patriarchical, repressive concept!

    And I already pointed out that I know, simply from talking to Uber drivers, that

    one reason women may avoid higher-paying areas is that they don’t feel safe—they may opt not to drive late at night in certain places, for instance, or stay away from neighborhoods that are considered dangerous.

    So why that left out of study? I tell you why. Because it make so-called study completely meaningless and MIT get no SJW potato for it.

    nk (dbc370)

  23. nk, research can’t cover all the facets of an issue, and researchers never claim to (unless it’s say, a meta-analysis– synthesizing multiple studies). Only people who don’t know science expect them to cover every angle of a complex issue, and most questions are complex when you look deeper into them. (In fact, I was involved in a meta-analysis once when I was in college, a long time ago, and far away.)

    Tillman (a95660)

  24. Tillman – A genuine scientist would behave as you suggest. The overwhelming majority of social “scientists” fraudulently present their extrapolations as valid conclusions, with extremely little, or no, caveats.

    Have you seen, by the bye, the complete and utter vitiation of the dietary fat vs. carbs “science?” It turns out fat is nowhere near the demon that carbs and sugars are.

    Science, as we know it, is not science. It is economic propaganda. The Uber “study” is more of the same.

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  25. opic: A woman died because she wouldn’t pay – not couldn’t pay but wouldn’t pay – a $116 co-pay for generic Tamiflu.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  26. 29. Ed, your reply makes sense at first, then you totally blow it with the last line.

    Different sciences, and even different branches of each science, have different levels of certainty. Basic physics is about as sure as it gets. A rock will fall at a certain velocity and that will not change short of some catastrophic event. But if you move toward “Theoretical Physics,” then, as the name implies, you’re getting more speculative.
    As for social science, I have an M.S. in psychology and that field has its own varying degrees of rigor and methods too. Social Science is harder than the “hard” sciences since (1) people change both individually and collectively over time. The answer you get today may not be what people are like tomorrow. (2) People in physics do not have to ask a rock how fast it’s falling toward Earth. But, at times in certain circumstances, social scientists have to ask people what their beliefs or emotions are and they don’t always tell the truth.
    But when you say that science is propaganda, you’ve gone way too far. Research should not be taken as true until it has been reproduced, over and over a number of times, by different researchers and only then should it be taken as fact. Research methods should be (and are) scrutinized too. One study doesn’t mean much without it being verified by others. Nothing else has that rigor, so you might as well consign to nihilism without it. And don’t go see a medical Dr. then, their practice is built entirely upon science.

    Tillman (a95660)

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