Ireland: What Drives The Gender Pay Gap? - Lessons From The Uber Study

Last Updated: 3 October 2018
Article by Bryan Dunne

The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill has been placed on the priority list in the Government's autumn legislative programme, which was published last week. An understanding of the structural and inherent causes of a gender pay gap within an organisation is essential in order for it to be able to take steps to remedy that gap. This will also help identify those elements that are simply beyond the employers control, even if actively seeking to address the gap.  It is also very important from a PR perspective as it will help the organisation to explain its position when the time comes to reporting. However, the true reasons for a gender pay gap may not be particularly obvious from the outset.

The Uber Study

A recent study1 led by economists into the gender pay gap in the gig economy revealed some surprising results. The study analysed data from more than 1.8 million drivers and 740 million Uber trips in the USA. It found that female Uber drivers make 7% less per hour than their male counterparts. This was even though the algorithms that determine pay for the service are gender neutral.

Due to its flexible nature, the gig economy is generally considered as an opportunity for equal pay between women and men. One of the economists who authored the study, John List, noted in a recent Freakonomics podcast[2] that the assumption at the outset of the study was that the findings would show equal, or close to equal pay, for two reasons. Firstly, the female drivers on average worked fewer hours per week so they had a chance to cherry-pick the better hours. Secondly, if there was discrimination on the platform, it was thought that the customers would actually prefer female drivers to male drivers.

The results were not so simple. The economists found three explanations for the Uber gender pay gap:

  • Driving locations: On average, men choose to drive in locations with a higher surge and lower wait times, and would drive more frequently than women in areas with higher crime rates.  In short, they proactively seek out the locations where they can earn more per hour.
  • Experience: Men generally accumulate more experience by working more hours each week and they are less likely to stop driving with Uber after a period of 6 months.  As a consequence, it takes them less time to work out where and at what time the more lucrative calls are received, so in turn how to earn more per hour.  The interesting counter-point to this is female drivers are not as free to adapt to these patterns as they are disproportionately more likely to be limited by childcare commitments than male drivers.
  • Men drive faster: Male drivers generally drive faster than female drivers and could therefore complete more trips in less time.

What can we learn from this?

A key learning point from the study is that the fact and causes of a gender pay gap in an organisation may not be particularly apparent. This study found that a gender pay gap existed in connection with work where pay is not based on factors which have traditionally explained the gap (e.g. preferences for specific hours and discrimination). The male and female drivers performed the same work, through the same platform and under non-negotiable rates, but still displayed a significant gender pay gap.

The researchers concluded that on–the-job learning may contribute to the gender pay gap more broadly in the economy than previously thought. They also determined that policies that could target changes in the time-use choices of men and women could narrow the gap by helping women to accumulate experience at the same pace as men.

What can employers do?

Under the proposed Irish legislation, employers will be required to publish the average differences in hourly pay and bonus pay between male and female employees. The rules will apply to all employers with more than 250 employees, and this threshold will gradually reduce to employers with 50 or more employees.

Whilst the precise detail of the obligations and calculation methods are unclear, and this legislation is only one part of the solution, it is clear that the legislation is coming shortly. Now is the perfect window for employers to get ahead of the curve.

Employers should start thinking about gathering gender pay data and getting the relevant systems and software in place so that they are ready to conduct a worthwhile gender pay audit.

A practice audit can help to identify any areas of vulnerability early. An analysis of the results can help to establish the drivers for any gap within the business, as well as the steps that can be taken to redress the gap. Early preparation will also enable an employer to show that it has been proactive in taking steps to address the issue.

Please see our last article in this series for an overview of the proposed legislation, available online.


1. "Gender Earnings Gap in the Gig Economy: Evidence From Over a Million Rideshare Drivers," Cody Cook,  Rebecca Diamond,  Jonathan Hall,  John A. List,  Paul Oyer, January 2018, Working Paper No. 3637. Available online.

2. Available online.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Mason Hayes & Curran
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Mason Hayes & Curran
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions