Female Uber drivers earn 7% less, but not due to company's sexism

Men generally drive faster, and are more willing to work the lucrative bar close shift.

Men generally drive faster, and are more willing to work the lucrative bar close shift. Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

Economists at Stanford, the University of Chicago, and Uber trawled through data from more than a million rideshare drivers looking for a gender pay gap and found a surprising 7 percent difference between men and women's take-home pay.

It's surprising because at Uber, hiring is gender-blind. You can sign up as long as you have a newish car and your background check comes back clean. You work when you want, where you want, and for as long as you want. You're paid based on how many rides you give, how long they take, and how far you go.

The fare is calculated by a computer, which does not care about your gender.

The economists also concluded that Uber doesn't discriminate when it comes to setting the wages, and customers don't discriminate when it comes to accepting or rejecting rides, though women actually get tipped better.

So why does this universal pay gap -- which women often attribute to lack of opportunity and skeptics dismiss as lack of initiative -- show up in Uber as well?

The study found that men drive more.

The average man takes about 50 percent more trips per week than the average woman. They tend to drive faster, which allows them to complete more rides, and the more money they earn from that equation makes them want to stick with Uber longer.

(The economists, who explained their findings at length on Freakonomics, said there's plenty of other research that shows women drive slower, but get in more accidents -- damn it, science! -- but men are more likely to be killed in accidents. I.e. women get into fender benders; men start driving the wrong way at 80 mph.)

Uber men also tend to go for the prime rides like early morning trips to the airport and bar close, the study found, while women dominate Sunday afternoons.

But while a very real pay gap does exist, female economists have found that it isn't as conveniently sinister as people might think. It's more about the uniqueness of women's lives. Women are usually primary caretakers of kids, so they can't be out late working graveyard shifts, and they typically don't prefer working alone, delivering strangers during those lucrative early morning and late night shifts because of the obvious safety risks.