Gender equity in the gig economy a case of the same old story

Australian women working in the gig economy are bringing home $2.67 per hour less on average than their male counterparts, a new report shows.

Mar 28, 2022, updated Mar 28, 2022

The report, produced by the Queensland University of Technology for the Victorian government, highlights entrenched gender inequalities within digital platform work.

Drawing on Australian and global studies, the research team found pay disparity between male and female gig economy workers ranges between 10 per cent and 37 per cent.

In Australia, women digital platform workers were more likely than men to earn less than $40,000 a year and on average, men earned $2.67 per hour more than the comparable rate reported by women.

Globally, men are more likely to perform platform work in fields such as software development and technology, transport and food delivery and skilled trade, while women more often carry out clerical and data entry, sales and marketing support, writing and translation, and care work.

Men in the gig economy on average worked 12.44 hours a week compared to 11.56 for women and were more likely to work at least a few times a week.

“Women’s caring responsibilities restrict time available for platform work, affect the timeliness of task completion, and limit the volume of work that can be completed – all of which contribute to lower rates of pay,” the report said.

Some platforms were also found to give clients the option to filter worker profiles based on preferred characteristics such as gender, potentially enabling discrimination.

Further, gender biases were identified in rideshare ratings as female drivers were more often penalised for “inferior” experiences, particularly for vehicle cleanliness and driving style.

“Digital platform work in Australia and internationally … can both reproduce and exacerbate existing gender inequalities in work, just as it can create new modes of gender inequality,” the report concludes.

A Victorian government inquiry into the state’s on-demand workforce released a report in July 2020, with the state government accepting all 20 of its recommendations in full or principle.

Victorian Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams said in a statement the gender pay gap remains an issue across almost every sector, including the gig economy and companies “must do more to address the drivers of gender inequality.”

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