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Dr. Joshua Waxman Investigates Pay Inequality

Portrait of Dr. Joseph WaxmanDr. Joshua Waxman, assistant professor at Stern College for Women, was one of six authors of a paper published on Feb. 21, 2020, in PLOS-ONE titled “The persistence of pay inequality: The gender pay gap in an anonymous online labor market.” (The other authors are Dr. Lieb Litman, Department of Psychology, Lander College; Dr. Jonathan Robinson, Department of Computer Science, Lander College; Dr. Zohn Rosen, Department of Health Policy & Management, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Dr. Cheskie Rosenzweig, Department of Clinical Psychology, Columbia University; and Dr. Lisa M. Bates, Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.)

The following is the abstract of the paper. The full text can be read here.

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Studies of the gender pay gap are seldom able to simultaneously account for the range of alternative putative mechanisms underlying it. Using CloudResearch, an online microtask platform connecting employers to workers who perform research-related tasks, we examine whether gender pay discrepancies are still evident in a labor market characterized by anonymity, relatively homogeneous work, and flexibility.

For 22,271 Mechanical Turk workers who participated in nearly 5 million tasks, we analyze hourly earnings by gender, controlling for key covariates which have been shown previously to lead to differential pay for men and women.

On average, women’s hourly earnings were 10.5% lower than men’s. Several factors contributed to the gender pay gap, including the tendency for women to select tasks that have a lower advertised hourly pay.

This study provides evidence that gender pay gaps can arise despite the absence of overt discrimination, labor segregation, and inflexible work arrangements, even after experience, education, and other human capital factors are controlled for. Findings highlight the need to examine other possible causes of the gender pay gap. Potential strategies for reducing the pay gap on online labor markets are also discussed.