18-20 August 2022

Gender, Job Quality, and the Platform-based Food-delivery Sector in Taiwan

Bo-Yi Lee

Abstract:Due to the rapidly rising number of workers earning a living from digital labour platforms, job quality has been one of the critical issues in such working contexts, including the platform-based food-delivery sector. Overall, platform-based fooddelivery workers are poorly compensated (Goods et al., 2019; Heeks et al., 2021). Social protection, including health insurance, retirement pensions, and unemployment insurance, is lacking, though social protection is much needed given that these workers suffer from significant health and safety and financial risks or distress (Christie and Ward, 2019; Glavin and Schieman, 2022; Gregory, 2021). Although under-examined in general, Myhill et al. (2021) focused on the subjective experience of the job quality of gig work (including food-delivery work) and showed that it was mediated by worker preferences, expectations, and personal circumstances. Although the existing literature has demonstrated the poor job quality of platform-based food-delivery workers, it has mainly relied on qualitative methods, such as interviews with workers and managers (Dunn, 2020; Goods et al., 2019; Gregory, 2021; Heeks et al., 2021). Other studies focused on single or some dimensions of job quality: Christie and Ward (2019) showed that riders experienced collisions caused by fatigue and pressure, Glavin and Schieman (2022) studied the mental health of those who are involved in platform work, Hoang et al. (2020) focused on the career prospects of these platform workers, and Tran and Sokas (2017) highlighted the low pay and lack of health protection of these platform workers. Subjectivity is also relatively overlooked in the current studies on job quality in the platform-based food-delivery sector. Lastly, the East Asian context is also relatively under-studied in the research concerning the job quality of those who work for digital food-delivery platforms. Therefore, a quantitative study examining job quality, including objective and subjective dimensions, in the platform-based food-delivery sector in an East Asian context by adopting a more comprehensive framework is necessary. Few studies examine job quality in the platform economy from the perspective of gender (Milkman et al., 2020), and most of them focus on gender-based job segregation and the resulting gender pay gap in the global labour platforms instead of localised labour platforms (Aleksynska et al., 2021; Barzilay and Ben-David, 2016; Foong et al., 2018; Galperin, 2021). Among these studies examining job quality in localised labour platforms from gender, very little research focuses on the platform-based food-delivery sector. In Milkman et al.’s (2020) findings, women’s hourly earnings from such delivery work were lower than men’s. However, the existing studies examining job quality in food-delivery platforms from the gender perspective tend to focus on pay mainly rather than adopt a holistic approach to critically investigate the job quality of these delivery workers from the perspective of gender. Applying a comprehensive framework of job quality and examining any gender gap in each dimension of job quality in such a work context is therefore of great importance. This article fills the aforementioned gaps by conducting a quantitative study that utilises survey data to examine the riders’ job quality in the platform-based food-delivery sector in Taiwan. The measurement of job quality was drawn upon Christie and Ward (2019), Goods et al. (2019), Gregory (2021) and the five pillars of Fairwork (Heeks et al., 2021), and the author modified some of these indicators after the author conducted five pilot tests with five union leaders and one consultant in May and June 2022. From 13 June 2022, the author, with the help of several union leaders in the sector promoting this survey, has gathered 273 responses via the Internet. In this paper, the author will present the data regarding the job quality of the Taiwanese riders in the platform-based fooddelivery sector and demonstrate if there is any gender gap in each dimension of job quality.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: