Sponsored by Ridesharing Forum:
International Women’s Day for 2018 was earlier this month, and it’s time to think a bit about women and ridesharing apps. There are quite a few issues surrounding the employment (or self-employment) of women in ridesharing as well as female passengers in rideshare cars with “safe” male drivers. To kick this article off, let’s review some global statistics presenting data about women and ridesharing.
Most of us might come from a liberal background, where women’s status in the US and western Europe is strong. In some countries, women hold stronger positions than in others, but the consensus is that the Western hemisphere is a woman-friendly environment, and the Eastern hemisphere is less so. This is obvious when observing a report that covered Egypt, South Africa, Indonesia, India, Mexico, and the UK.
Ridesharing is found in all of these places, but the issues facing women are different in each location. What is unique and found in all locations is that ridesharing reduces the barriers between gender in all locations. There is one troubling issue that covers all of them, and that is women’s security. Apart from this issue, everything else is extremely similar, if not the same for all places.
A recent report undertaken by the International Finance Corporation, a division of the World Bank Group, called The Driving Toward Equality report collated Uber data and included anonymous and aggregated data, survey results from over 11,000 female and male Uber app users, and interviews with gender, transportation, and the future of work experts. This report aimed to compare the state of women in ridesharing across six specific countries including Egypt and the UK.
The executive summary of the report states that the research answers four questions:
- How do women currently engage in the ride-hailing industry as drivers and riders?
- What are the opportunities for women in ride-hailing, and what are the barriers?
- How will serving women support growth and innovation?
- How can relevant stakeholders draw on these findings to ensure that sharing economy business models offer opportunities for both men and women alike?”
When we compare data, we should start with a benchmark, and we find this in the US.
Women in the ridesharing sector enjoy equal opportunities to earn as male counterparts in the US. Most of the women who started to work for Uber or Lyft reported higher income per hour, while they might have worked shorter shifts than men, their income ratio was identical. Most US women drivers for Uber reported that once they started to work for Uber, they gained access to income that was greater than before they started driving.
Only one in seven women stated that they had another job, and most of the women would juggle housework with driving. In general, the US benchmark shows that women enjoyed greater freedom of choice and work environment, and driving for Uber empowered them to succeed. The only downside to women driving for Uber was the insecurity they felt with male passengers and the fact that Uber restricts drivers from holding weapons in their car.
The report found the following results:
- Women decide to drive for Uber mainly for the flexible hours. Around 33% rely on their Uber pay for living, which is similar for men. Most of the women driving for Uber combine their work with other means of income, and these include personal startups, studying, and working for various organizations.
- Uber’s app is a sexless app, which means there are no restraints or barriers that would normally block women from entering an all-male job role. Most of the women reported an income boost, and the average earnings increased by 4% to 29% in different countries. It’s important to note that the report did not stipulate what academic background these women had achieved before they started to drive for Uber.
- In some cases, women used the income from Uber to invest in their ventures and startups. 15% of all the women drivers operated another business, which is comparable to male driver statistics. Most of the women that opted to drive for Uber used the extra income to ease cash flow and build up a better credit score. In some cases, women drivers also marketed their needs to passengers, seeking investors and advisers.
- In most of the countries surveyed in the Middle East and Asia, 11% of the women felt their families disapproved of their working for Uber. In comparison, over 60% of all men that were asked if they would be bothered by their wives working as an Uber driver agreed that they would be unhappy with that decision. In comparison, men from India, Mexico, and the UK were happy if their wives would also work. What made most men concerned with their wives working as Uber drivers was their safety. Women also faced discrimination from riders in the Middle East where up to 25% of the rides were canceled due to the sex of the driver.
- The report provided some insights into driving as a profession for women. Safety concerns were at the top of the list for both women and men, while security features such as data trails were at the top of the list for women.
- There is an interesting cycle of expansion, where the more women drivers that work attract more women to drive, increasing the ranks of the rideshare drivers with women. The survey found that over 40% of all female passengers preferred if a woman driver would pick them up at night. This goes to show that Uber should increase its efforts to add more women drivers.
The concluding remarks of the study were:
- The rideshare industry will only improve when employing more women as drivers.
- The lack of a comprehensive system for security and personal safety are issues that block women from working as drivers.
- Countries with social norms that prefer men are open to women drivers, and this gives women drivers professional empowerment that they did not have before.