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Women in the Gig Economy: Feminising ‘Digital Labour’

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Al JamesORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Bristol University Press , 2022.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This paper 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 paper 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 algorotihmic visibilities and abilities to compete for gig work online, alongside multiple health and safety issues amongst 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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): James A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Work in the Global Economy

Year: 2022

Volume: 2

Issue: 1

Pages: 2-26

Print publication date: 01/07/2022

Online publication date: 18/03/2022

Acceptance date: 14/02/2022

Date deposited: 11/02/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2732-4176

Publisher: Bristol University Press


DOI: 10.1332/273241721X16448410652000

ePrints DOI: 10.57711/pmqm-fp52


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Funder referenceFunder name
MD170018British Academy