A new study published in Science Advances suggests being female may diminish earnings on eBay, a popular online marketplace. Female eBay sellers may encounter a wage gap similar to the one women encounter in the work force, earning just 80 cents to every man’s dollar.
The disparity occurred even when men and women were selling the same product, suggesting the gap persists even when there are no obvious differences in the items sold or in their product quality.
According to the American Association of University Women, women who work full time continue to earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and differences in choices or skill cannot fully explain the discrepancy.
Do Men Make More Money on eBay?
Researchers looked at more than a million eBay sales of 420 of the site’s most popular products between 2009 and 2012. Men were more likely to be eBay sellers than women, with women comprising about a quarter of the marketplace. Women sellers were more likely than men to have high feedback scores, indicating a positive reputation as a seller.
Overall, women earned 20% less than men in eBay sales of similar products. Even when researchers controlled for factors such as product descriptions or reputation, the difference remained. Though men as a group earned more than women, different products produced different disparities:
- A folding knife sold for 61% less when a woman was the seller.
- Some items sold for more when a woman was the seller. One Barbie model went for 16% more, while pet food made 20% more for women.
- The wage gap almost disappeared when sellers sold used items, with women earning 97% of men’s earnings. The researchers suggest this could be because buyers trust women to provide more accurate product descriptions of used items.
- When sellers offered an identical Amazon voucher, buyers offered more to “Brad” than to “Alison.”
The study did not directly assess why buyers offered higher prices to men than to women, but the authors speculate buyers may view items owned by men as more valuable.
- Hill, C., PhD. (2016). The simple truth about the gender pay gap. Retrieved from http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/
- Kricheli-Katz, T., & Regev, T. (2016). How many cents on the dollar? Women and men in product markets. Science Advances, 2(2). doi:10.1126/sciadv.1500599
- Sample, I. (2016, February 19). How can a woman make more on Ebay? Pretend to be a man. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/feb/19/ebay-study-shows-online-shoppers-are-subconsciously-sexist
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