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Paola Tubaro (CNRS) – “Hidden inequalities: the gendered labour of women on micro-tasking platforms ”
Sociology Seminar: Thursdays
Time: 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm –
Date: 24th of March 2022
Paola Tubaro (CNRS) – “Hidden inequalities: the gendered labour of women on micro-tasking platforms”
Abstract : Around the world, myriad workers perform data tasks on online labour platforms to fuel the digital economy. Mostly short, repetitive and little paid, these so-called ‘micro-tasks’ include for example labelling objects in images, classifying tweets, recording utterances, and transcribing audio files – notably to satisfy the data appetite of today’s fast-growing artificial intelligence industry. While casualization of labour and low pay have attracted sharp criticisms against these platforms, they appear gender-blind and accessible even to people with basic skills. Women with care or household duties may particularly benefit from the time flexibility and the possibility to work from home that platforms offer. Nevertheless, this new form of online labour fails to fill gender gaps, and may even exacerbate them. I demonstrate this result in three steps. First, legacy nequalities in the professional and domestic spheres turn platform-mediated micro-tasking into a ‘third shift’ that adds to already heavy schedules. Second, the human capital of male and female data workers differ, with women less likely to have received training in science and technology fields. Third, their social capital differs: using a position generator instrument to capture workers’ access to the informational and support resources that may come from contacts with people in different occupations, I show that women have fewer ties to digital-related professionals who could provide them with knowledge and advice to successfully navigate the platform world. Taken together, these factors leave women with fewer career prospects within a tech-driven workforce, and reproduce relegation of women to lower-level computing work as observed in the history of twentieth-century technology.
Sofian EL ATIFI, Etienne OLLION, Patrick PRÄG (Pôle de Sociologie du CREST)