February 9, 2018

WHAT UBER CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE “GENDER GAP:” It’s not about discrimination.

DUBNER: Okay, a third of the gap can be explained by returns to experience. You said about 20 percent of the gap can be explained by time and location of work. But that leaves almost half that can be explained by the third factor. What is that?

LIST: That’s right. So after we account for experience now we’re left scratching our heads. So, we’re thinking, “Well, we’ve tried discrimination. We’ve done where, when. We’ve done experience. What possibly could it be?” What we notice in the data is that men are actually completing more trips per hour than women. So this is sort of a eureka moment.

DUBNER: They’re driving faster, aren’t they?

HALL: Yeah. So the third factor, which explains the remaining 50 percent of the gap, is speed.

DIAMOND: So men happen to just drive a little bit faster, and because driving a little bit faster gets you to finish your trips that much quicker, and get on to the next trip, you can fit more trips in an hour, and you end up with a higher amount of pay.

DUBNER: Now how did these Uber driver data for male/female speed compare to male/female driver speed generally? Do we know for a fact that men generally drive faster than women?

LIST: Yeah, what you find is that in the general population men actually drive faster than women.

DUBNER: Okay, so male Uber drivers drive faster than female Uber drivers, and therefore that helps them make more money. Is that, however, more dangerous, the faster driving?

DIAMOND: So the gap is small — men drive about 2 percent faster than women. So it doesn’t suggest that that’s leading to big differences in risk.

Very interesting. But since it can’t be politically weaponized, it’s likely to be ignored.