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The pay gap extends to eBay: Study finds women make less than men when selling the same items online

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According to a new study, the gender pay gap isn’t just alive and kicking among corporate pay scales and professional pay packets. It’s also at play on social selling websites like eBay.

Published last week in the journal Science Advances, the study, conducted by researchers in Israel, compared how much money both men and women make when selling new and used items on the e-commerce platform.

After analysing over one million auction-only eBay transactions, Tamar Kricheli-Katz, a professor at Tel Aviv University, and Tali Regev, a professor at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, found that on average women made 20 per cent less when selling the same new items as their male counterparts.

The gap was far smaller when it came to selling used items, but male sellers still made three per cent more than females.

Gender pay gap

What makes these findings even more interesting (or appalling), is the fact that eBay doesn’t actually display the gender of the seller on it’s platform. That’s all implied to buyers through username choices.

When sellers sign-up to eBay, the company does ask for their gender, and so the researchers were able  to use that data to inform their conclusions. But when it comes to buying, we’re all left to assume what we will from a username choice.

Which, say professors Kricheli-Katz and Regev, begs the question, ‘What would happen if gender identity was explicitly stated?’

“The results of our study are particularly noteworthy when we consider the market that we studied,” write the professors in their report.

“As a policy, eBay does not explicitly state the gender of its users. Nevertheless, men and women are easily gender-categorized by other users. We suspect that even greater divergences are present in other product markets where gender is always known.”

The eBay research is the latest to explore how perceptions of gender affect behaviour online.

Another recent study also looked into perceptions of gender within programming, finding that code written by women was more likely to be accepted, but only when the gender of the coder was unknown.

 

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