Women in the gig economy: feminising ‘digital labour’

Author: Al James1
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  • 1 Newcastle University, , UK
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This article explores the gendered dynamics of labouring on digital labour platforms and gives voice to women gig workers. Millions of women worldwide find work through digital labour platforms, yet remain largely invisible within the expansive digital labour research agenda. The analysis is built from original interviews with 49 women in the UK using a range of popular remote crowdwork platforms (including PeoplePerHour, Upwork, TaskRabbit, Freelancer) to access desk-based, white-collar gig work from home. The article makes three original contributions. First, it widens the analytical focus of the digital labour research agenda to recognise the role of workers’ gender identities and uneven household gender divisions of care in shaping the operation and outcomes of digital labour platforms, in ways that remain ‘hidden in the cloud’. Second, in contrast to widespread celebratory claims that platforms disrupt stubborn gender labour market inequalities, the analysis identifies significant gendered constraints on women’s algorithmic visibilities and abilities to compete for gig work online, alongside multiple health and safety issues among women gig workers undocumented in previous research. Third, in response to these new insights, and based on calls from women gig workers themselves, it sets out a series of new directions for extending this urgent multidisciplinary research agenda.

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  • 1 Newcastle University, , UK

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