How might we design technologies that promote equity in online freelancing and remote work?
I am a human-computer interaction (HCI) researcher and Postdoctoral Fellow at Tokyo College at the University of Tokyo with Dr. Hideaki Kuzuoka in the Cyber Interface Lab, and a Visiting Researcher at Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) with Dr. Laura Dabbish. I previously worked in the Delta Lab at Northwestern University under Dr. Elizabeth Gerber in the Technology and Social Behavior program.
The world is going through immense changes in how people find and do paid work that involves neither 1) working physically around other coworkers, nor 2) working long-term for the same employer. These rapid changes have the potential to reduce inequities in the workplace by providing flexible and remote work opportunities. For example, in many countries such as the US and Japan, women continue to earn less than men, in part due to norms that favor inflexible, face-to-face work.
I believe in a future of work where online freelancing and remote work can promote more equitable pay and participation. To drive this vision, I use mixed research methods, including design-based research, big data analyses, surveys, experiments, and interviews.
- Started collaborating with Laura Dabbish as a Visiting Researcher at Carnegie Mellon University
- Paper with Liz Gerber, "Gender Differences in Pricing Behavior in Online Labor Marketplaces" received an Honorable Mention award at CHI 2021
- Hosted two successful webinar events for Tokyo College's International Women's Day celebration on gender, work, and diversity in universities
- Started collaborating with Hideaki Kuzuoka (UTokyo) and Naomi Yamashita (NTT)
- Moved to Japan!
- Microsoft published a short paper about freelancing in the COVID-19 pandemic that Liz Gerber and I wrote
Gender and Equity in the Online Gig Economy
In many traditional labor markets, women earn less on average compared to men. However, it is unclear whether this discrepancy persists in the online gig economy, which bears important differences from the traditional labor market (e.g., more flexible work arrangements, shorter-term engagements, reputation systems). In a large-scale analysis of 48,019 workers' profiles on Upwork, a popular online labor marketplace, I found that the median woman on Upwork sets bill rates that are about 74% of the median man's rate, a discrepancy even bigger than the offline labor market. My follow-up survey research on gender differences in pricing strategies suggests that other factors, such as part-time freelancer status and importance of freelancing as a source of income, could influence bill rate more than specific pricing strategies.
Online Feedback Exchange and Career Development
Online feedback exchange (OFE) systems are an increasingly popular way to test concepts with millions of target users before going to market. Yet, we know little about how users make sense of this feedback and how this feedback could be used to support freelancers, who must constantly improve their online portfolios to develop successful careers. In my research, I developed a framework for thinking about the socio-psychological factors in OFE systems, highlighted novice-expert differences in making sense of online feedback, and designed a crowdsourced feedback tool, CrowdFolio, to help freelance designers' understand how others' view their work.
In high school, I trained in Chinese contemporary dance performing with the Eastern Dancer company in Penang, Malaysia. I also trained in contemporary jazz for 2 years with Van Collins in Chicago and performed in a tribute performance for choreographer Duwane Pendarvis. I'm currently improving my ballet technique and recently began training en pointe.
Tokyo College, University of Tokyo
7 Chome-3-1 Hongo
Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-8654
foong [dot] eureka [at] tc [dot] u-tokyo [dot] ac [dot] jp
eureka [dot] foong [at] gmail [dot] com