Gender Gaps in Digital Labour Platforms

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760). This special issue belongs to the section "Gender Studies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2023) | Viewed by 5548

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Statistics, Sapienza University of Rome, 00161 Rome, Italy
Interests: gender economics; labour economics; human development; data feminism
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Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche, Università degli studi di Bari “Aldo Moro”, Piazza Cesare Battisti, Bari, Italy
Interests: labour markets; technological change; employment dynamics; income and inequalities; digital platforms; gender studies; development economics

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Guest Editor
Department of Statistics, Sapienza University of Rome, 00161 Rome, Italy
Interests: financial literacy; machine learning; decision trees; random forest; gradient boosting; self-efficacy in higher education; gender gaps; maternal employment; Argentina; Guatemala
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Despite considerable debate on digital work platforms, studies incorporating gender perspectives remain uncommon. 

We seek contributions to provide a gender analysis of digital labour platforms in different parts of the world, beginning with the assumption that technology is not gender-neutral, and employment patterns in the platform economy might echo those of the traditional labour market. We are particularly interested in empirical findings on female access to platform work, occupational segregation, and precarious organizational and working conditions. 

The available empirical evidence suggests that platform work does not present itself as a completely free choice, but rather as a source of employment opportunities for the integration of women as a disadvantaged group lacking better options. 

To date, the digital labour market has not been able to deliver on the promises of flexibility and increased female labour participation that could have produced greater gender equality. This is not necessarily because of the platforms themselves, but because of the lack of policies that address the unequal organization of productive and reproductive labour, both online and offline. 

The goal of policy and social partners should, then, be to ensure effective labour protection within these new employment patterns. This would prevent platforms perpetuating exploitative female labour practices, amplifying existing gender gaps, and promising unsubstantiated revolutions of increased flexibility and equality.  

Prof. Dr. Marcella Corsi
Dr. Cirillo Valeria
Dr. Zacchia Giulia
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • digital labour platforms
  • gender equality
  • crowd working
  • occupational segregation
  • flexibility
  • decent work
  • discrimination
  • productive and reproductive labour

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

18 pages, 391 KiB  
Article
Socio-Labour Inclusion of Low-Income Women in the Digital Economy: A Comparison between Corporate and Cooperative Domestic Work Platforms
by Denise Kasparian, Agustina Súnico, Julieta Grasas and Julia Cófreces
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(10), 579; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12100579 - 19 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1256
Abstract
It is often argued that digital labour platforms entail an expansion of opportunities for women for several reasons. They facilitate the balance between paid work and household chores as a result of time flexibility, they eliminate entry and permanence barriers for typically male [...] Read more.
It is often argued that digital labour platforms entail an expansion of opportunities for women for several reasons. They facilitate the balance between paid work and household chores as a result of time flexibility, they eliminate entry and permanence barriers for typically male work sectors, they enable economic independence, and they favour the creation of professional networks. Several studies, however, have shown that the wage gap, the sexual division of labour, occupational segregation, and gender stereotypes still persist. Hence, to what extent do the new forms of labour mediated by digital platforms lead to an expansion of opportunities for women? This article analyses the socio-labour inclusion of low-income women in digital labour platforms by contrasting the model of corporate platforms against the emerging alternative of platform cooperatives. The movement of platform cooperativism advocates for the creation of platform companies based on democratic ownership and governance models that reduce inequalities in a broad sense. The methodological approach is based on the comparison of two platforms: Zolvers, which was founded in 2013 with headquarters in Argentina and which operates as an intermediary or marketplace between those who offer and those who require home cleaning services, and Up & Go, which was founded in 2017 in New York and is owned by six worker cooperatives that use the platform to offer various services on demand, particularly home cleaning services. Whereas Zolvers offers job opportunities with possibilities of formalisation but no guarantee of stability, Up & Go is owned and managed by worker cooperatives that seek to guarantee living wages for their worker-members. Concerning working conditions, Zolvers reproduces power asymmetries of domestic work, subordinating workers to the platform and the hirers. On the contrary, Up & Go empowers women workers to decide on their schedules and hirers, among other issues. Finally, whereas Zolvers does not enable the participation of workers either in governance or in technology design, the cooperative nature of Up & Go promotes their involvement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender Gaps in Digital Labour Platforms)
14 pages, 302 KiB  
Article
Women’s Tailored Food Delivery Platform: The Case of a Small Company in Italy
by Luisa De Vita
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(9), 512; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12090512 - 12 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1124
Abstract
This paper focuses on the study of “Takeve”, an Italian food delivery platform that employs only women. The research conducted by interviewing both the workers and the founders of this small platform provides an opportunity to re-discuss the business models of food delivery [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on the study of “Takeve”, an Italian food delivery platform that employs only women. The research conducted by interviewing both the workers and the founders of this small platform provides an opportunity to re-discuss the business models of food delivery platforms. The aim is to understand how and in what ways it is possible to initiate a participatory and multi-stakeholder model in which opportunities for fair and decent work, business-to-business cooperation, and even dialogue between companies and institutions are created. Although the case presented is circumscribed and very limited in size, it seems to be a good example to reflect on the possibility of rethinking the model of food delivery platforms in a gendered perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender Gaps in Digital Labour Platforms)
14 pages, 693 KiB  
Article
Algorithmic Discriminations and New Forms of Protections: An Analysis of the Italian Case
by Marina De Angelis, Silvia Donà and Francesca Bergamante
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(9), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12090503 - 07 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1336
Abstract
This research aims to investigate how to protect workers from discrimination dictated by an algorithm in the contractual conditions. Article 15 of the Italian Workers’ Statute declares invalid any agreement or act aimed at: dismissing a worker, discriminating him in the assignment of [...] Read more.
This research aims to investigate how to protect workers from discrimination dictated by an algorithm in the contractual conditions. Article 15 of the Italian Workers’ Statute declares invalid any agreement or act aimed at: dismissing a worker, discriminating him in the assignment of qualifications or tasks, transfers, disciplinary measures, or otherwise prejudicing him because of his affiliation or union activity, or his participation in a strike. These provisions shall also apply to pacts or acts for the purposes of political, religious, racial, language, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, or belief. Our work intends to explore the risk of gender or age discrimination in the contractual terms for platform workers in Italy. How can workers’ protections be preserved when decisions are made by an algorithm? The research is conducted with a multidisciplinary methodology. We first analyze both national and international literature and jurisprudence. Then, by means of probit models on INAPP PLUS 2021 survey data, we analyze contract characteristics, in particular the written form of the contract and the hourly minimum wage. Controlling for individual and job characteristics, we find evidence of discrimination according to gender and age of workers. We conclude with policy recommendations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender Gaps in Digital Labour Platforms)
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18 pages, 2998 KiB  
Article
Are You Really Your Own Boss? Flexi-Vulnerability and False Consciousness of Autonomy in the Digital Labor Culture of Riders
by Gabriel López-Martínez, Francisco Eduardo Haz-Gómez and José Eulogio Real Deus
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(8), 429; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12080429 - 31 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1231
Abstract
In the European Union, over 28 million people work through more than 500 available digital platforms, and it is estimated that by 2025, this number will reach 43 million. However, we lack up-to-date and sufficient data on employed individuals, as platforms practice a [...] Read more.
In the European Union, over 28 million people work through more than 500 available digital platforms, and it is estimated that by 2025, this number will reach 43 million. However, we lack up-to-date and sufficient data on employed individuals, as platforms practice a policy of non-disclosure of data. This paper focuses on the so-called location-based platforms and specifically the figure of the rider, understood as the individual who, through a commercial or labor relationship with a company, performs tasks such as the delivery of goods to end customers. By conducting 143 surveys and 15 in-depth interviews with riders, we identified a series of characteristics that allow us to analyze this archetype of contemporary work–digital relations and delve deeper into relevant questions related to this figure, which have to do with the modality linked to the performance of their activity (self-employed or salaried), the levels of job satisfaction with respect to their activity, or the strategies for work or personal conciliation. Specifically, we focus on those discourses that refer to the characteristics of flexibility and autonomy inherent to this type of work, analyzing a heterogeneity of discourses that explain, on the one hand, a situation of precariousness and, in other cases, a job opportunity and a self-employment strategy, introducing the idea of flexi-vulnerability understood as a concept that captures the dual nature of flexibility and vulnerability experienced by individuals who work as self-employed in the so-called “gig” economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender Gaps in Digital Labour Platforms)
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