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Are Gig Platforms a Solution to the Gender-Pay Gap?

The gender-pay gap may have met its match in on-demand gig work.
By: | March 4, 2019 • 2 min read
Pink and blue figures on equal coin stacks. Concept for gender equality income.

Though stats vary, most workplace experts generally agree women typically earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Efforts to close that 20 percent gender-pay gap have involved everything from legislation banning employers from considering salary history to policies promoting pay transparency.

New research suggests that the evolving gig economy could also be an avenue for reducing the gender-pay gap. Gig platform Wonolo recently released The State of the Hustle: Inside America’s Thriving Blue-Collar Economy, its first-ever in-depth study of its 300,000 users.

Among the areas the study addressed was the wage differential among men and women. The average hourly pay for all Wonoloers was $14.54. Men do rake in slightly more—$14.69 per hour compared to $14.38 for women—but the gap amounts to just 2 percent, which the report writers attributed to factors like worker preference for gigs in certain industries, previous job performance, gig location or availability.

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Founded in 2014 as the “Lyft of merchandising,” Wonolo now connects shift workers to gigs across a range of industries with just a few clicks. Wonolo notifies users of jobs that fit their backgrounds, locations and availability—and they then opt to claim them, a model that Wonolo Vice President of Strategy and Finance Beatrice Pang says cuts gender bias out of the selection process entirely.

“Any ‘Wonoloer’ can sign up for any gig, leaving no room for the job poster to make a judgment based on gender or other factors,” she says.

“Gig platforms have the potential to prevent gender-bias screening, give all workers an equal opportunity and virtually eliminate the pay gap,” Pang adds. “I believe we’ll start to see more of these platforms adopting gender-blind hiring practices that will increase earning potential for women across several industries, especially in the blue-collar workforce.”

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When the data were broken down by industries, women were paid more, on average, than men in delivery and merchandising (7 cents and 40 cents higher, respectively). Looking ahead, the report suggests more women are going to be filling jobs through gig work in traditionally male-dominated industries, such as shipping and logistics, manufacturing and warehousing.

Among the other findings of the report were:

  • Demand (and pay) are highest at the end of the year: Requestors posted the most gigs during the months of September to December and also saw the highest job-fill rates of the year during that time. Wonolers averaged $114.46 per job during December, about $10 more than the average at other times of the year.
  • Warehouse work is the most popular: Wonolers are asked to rate each job they complete, and fulfillment and warehouse jobs had the highest ranking, at 4.84 out of five stars.
  • Demographics vary widely: Gig workers who use Wonolo range from age 18 to 82, with an average age of 32.
Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected]

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