Getting Women to Ask for More: Designing for Gender Equity in Online Freelancers’ Negotiations

The online gig economy has the potential to mitigate gender inequities in the workplace by providing flexible, remote, short-term opportunities to find paid work. However, women ask for lower hourly pay rates than men in online freelance marketplaces. Several factors could explain these gaps, such as gender “likability” biases that penalize women for more assertive behaviors, like negotiation, and differences in how men and women evaluate their worth.

Past Work

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.

Current Study

In collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, I have conducted nearly 20 online design workshops with freelancers across the globe to co-design tools that promote gender equity in online negotiation and rate-setting.

Publications

Eureka Foong and Elizabeth M. Gerber. 2021. Understanding Gender Differences in Pricing Strategies in Online Labor Marketplaces. Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ‘21) -Honorable Mention Award

Eureka Foong, Nicholas Vincent, Brent Hecht, and Elizabeth M. Gerber. 2018. Women (Still) Ask For Less: Gender Differences in Hourly Rate in an Online Labor Marketplace. Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact. 2, CSCW, Article 53 (November 2018), 21 pages. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3274322