Ride-hailing is an ideal industry in which to examine the opportunities and barriers that women face in the sharing economy

Drivers 1. Women choose to drive using the Ubere app for a wide variety of reasons, but they particularly value the flexibility it offers. • Women identify the ability to work when they want to as the key benefit of using ride-hailing apps: across the six markets studied, three-quarters of the women drivers surveyed rank it among their top three benefits. It helps them juggle other commitments: for example, 91 percent of mothers driving with the Uber app are also the primary caregivers for their children. Men also cite flexibility as the key benefit of driving, which highlights the sharing economy’s potential to help shift the existing household and care work paradigm. • Approximately one-third of women drivers surveyed rely on ride-hailing for all their personal income, a rate similar to that of men. But many women combine driving with other activities, such as working part-time for an organization, running their own separate businesses, or studying. • Women tend to drive more selectively than men: on average, they drive fewer hours than men and are less likely to drive at night or sign in daily to the app. By reducing their hours and not driving at times of peak demand, women could be limiting their earnings or ability to earn volume-based incentives. Still, the women surveyed are just as likely as their male peers to turn a robust profit from driving, despite being less likely to own their own vehicle outright. 2. Ride-hailing apps reduce barriers to entry for women to work as drivers in this traditionally male-dominated industry and, in many cases, boost women’s average incomes. • Low barriers to entry via the app make it relatively easy for women to enter an occupation few have traditionally pursued. However, the proportion of women drivers remains low, reflecting other barriers such as the regulatory requirement for a commercial license in some markets, including the United Kingdom, social mores, and low rates of financial and digital inclusion. • Women drivers report a higher income boost than men when they take up ride-hailing work: average earnings achieved by all women who drive using the Uber app increased across each market studied, ranging from 11 percent in Mexico to 29 percent in Egypt. In contrast, men in the markets studied see an increase in average earnings of between 4 percent in Indonesia and 15 percent in Egypt. • The premium women earn over men likely reflects their previous income and employment status. When analyzing the earnings of only those drivers in paid work prior to driving with Uber, women tend to receive a greater boost to their earnings than men do when they sign up—even those previously employed, ranging from between zero percent in Indonesia to 11 percent in the United Kingdom. 3. Some women drivers use ride-hailing income and contacts to support other entrepreneurial activities. • Fifteen percent of women drivers run businesses separate from their ride-hailing activities—broadly the same rate as men (12 percent). Some of these entrepreneurs use ridehailing income to smooth the cash flow of their operations and to build their credit profiles, while others recruit riders as potential advisors, investors, and customers. • The findings do not suggest that ride-hailing increases overall levels of entrepreneurship among women. Instead, it allows some women to start new businesses and a similar number to close existing ones, enabling better matching of women and business opportunities. • Women’s use of sharing platforms to support other businesses is consistent with other literature on women’s engagement with online platforms and suggests that the sharing economy can help support their entrepreneurial ambitions. 

4. Social norms limit the extent to which women participate in ride-hailing as drivers. • Overall, 11 percent of women drivers surveyed say their family or friends disapproved of their decision to sign up, but attitudes toward women drivers vary widely by market. More than half of current male drivers surveyed in Egypt and Indonesia would be unhappy if a woman in their family wanted to sign up; in contrast, more than half of men say they would be happy in India, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. The top concern among men who would be unhappy is the perceived security risks for women, but some also question the suitability of driving as an occupation for women. • Women may also face discrimination once on the road: 14 percent of all women drivers surveyed believe some riders have canceled on them due to their gender, rising to approximately a quarter in Egypt and Indonesia. • The extent of these restrictive norms reveals both the scope of the challenge of recruiting women into ridehailing and the pioneering nature of the women who have chosen to drive.