The ride-hailing industry has witnessed significant growth and transformation in recent years, revolutionizing how people commute and access transportation services. Many Nigerians opt to use the services provided by Bolt, Uber, In-Drive, LagRide, and more instead of driving their cars or taking other means of public transportation.
These platforms are huge facilitators of the gig economy in Nigeria, engaging thousands of drivers to make transport easier for many Nigerians. However, one crucial aspect that often goes unnoticed is the gender disparity within this sector.
The notion of ride-hailing as a male-dominated profession mirrors the gender biases prevalent in the tech sector and other industries. This idea has led to a lack of attention toward the preferences and experiences of female drivers in the Nigerian e-hailing industry.
According to a 2022 report by Zippia, the United States demonstrates a substantial gender disparity within the ride-hailing sector. Out of the total drivers in the US, only 17.6% are female, while males account for 82.4% of the workforce. While we are confident that more males account for the workforce in Nigeria and Africa, little data exists regarding gender distribution in Africa’s ride-hailing industry.
Conducting a comprehensive survey among Nigerian customers in the ride-hailing industry, specifically targeting users of popular platforms, Uber and Bolt, we collected data from 22 respondents with an equal distribution of 11 male and 11 female participants.
This survey aimed to investigate and analyze the gender disparity within the industry, taking into account users’ preferences. This report presents the findings of our analysis and explores the potential implications of this gender disparity on the industry as a whole.
Read Also: Bolt invests €2.5 million to bridge the gender gap in the ride-hailing industry with “Women at the Wheels” campaign
Gender preferences and customer satisfaction in ride-hailing services
In the context of utilizing popular ride-hailing services such as Bolt, Uber, and others, it is observed that a large portion of customers takes the gender of the driver into mental consideration when making their service selection as these ride-hailing services at the moment do not have gender preference selection.
The survey findings indicate that approximately 77.3% preferred either a male or female driver, while 22.7% remained neutral.
The survey findings revealed that within the respondent pool, 87.5% exhibited a preference for male drivers, while 12.5% expressed a preference for female drivers. These statistics provide valuable insights into the prevalence of gender preferences and highlight the potential impact of societal and cultural factors on interpreting gender-specific strengths.
It is important to recognize that customer preferences regarding the gender of the driver can significantly influence their overall satisfaction and perceived comfort during the ride. The observed preference for male drivers may stem from various societal and cultural issues, such as preconceived notions regarding driving skills, perceptions of safety, or ingrained gender stereotypes.
Conversely, the preference for female drivers may be influenced by different factors, such as a desire for a more inclusive and diverse service experience.
One of the users that Technext spoke to explained why she preferred a male driver to a female one. “Women are just women, they can be easily irritated, and their actions (or presence) may make the rider a bit more uncomfortable”
Factors in rider selection: Gender bias in users’ preferences and perceptions
Aside from being in a hurry to get to your destination, safety is a critical determinant that significantly impacts customers’ choices when selecting a preferred gender for riders. In this category, 47.06% are neutral regarding gender preference.
41.18% of the respondents who opted for male drivers as their preferred option took into account the gender factor due to a perception of enhanced comfort and security associated with the inherent strength and confidence often associated with males.
Although one respondent said, “Male drivers are rude and overcharging”
Conversely, 11.76% of respondents who chose female drivers cited gender disparity as a contributing factor, with one participant specifically mentioning that women are perceived to exercise greater caution and attentiveness while driving compared to their male counterparts.
In a predominantly male-dominated field and within a societal framework that perpetuates the belief of male superiority over women, it is not surprising that a large portion of the respondents hold the perspective that men are inherently “better drivers” and “have the road under control”, unlike their female counterparts as one respondent explained are “too slow”.
In my experience, many female drivers do not know the roads, especially those inroads that would help you reach your destinations faster. Men are more prone to take risks, enter corners to beat traffic, and drive faster; a user told Technext
This mindset manifests itself in our society as male drivers often undermine the skills and expertise of women simply due to their gender, thus reinforcing gender biases and stereotypes.
Advantages of each gender according to customers
When examining the merits of selecting male drivers in the ride-hailing service industry, more than half of the respondents, 57.89%, acknowledged the advantages of having a male driver. However, 36.84% do not see any advantage attached to the male gender.
While a small portion of respondents expressed a lack of experience with female drivers, this 57.89% elaborated on their positive encounters and perceived benefits from male drivers. Their perspective stems from the belief that male drivers possess superior driving skills and attributes.
Also, within the context of Nigeria, where law enforcement agencies and motor park workers have been accused of exerting undue pressure on road users, these respondents maintain that men exhibit resilience in handling the pressures, rules, and regulations imposed by such entities compared to their female counterparts.
The perception of the female gender being emotionally attuned, attentive, and non-assertive has been ingrained deeply, leading to the underestimation of women’s capabilities in various roles and industries.
52.94% express support for women and prefer them as drivers in the ride-hailing industry due to their perceived qualities of being calmer, more careful, and safer while driving. In comparison, 47.06% of respondents have no specific gender preference, mainly because they have not had the opportunity to experience a woman as a driver and are eager to witness their dominance and active participation in this space.
Should ride-hailing service platforms consider gender preference selection?
While 66.7% of the respondents exhibit a pessimistic outlook regarding ride-hailing service selection, 33.3% demonstrate openness to considering a ride-hailing service that offers the option to choose a male or female driver.
The majority, comprising 66.7% of respondents, prioritize the ultimate objective of arriving safely and punctually over the gender of the driver. While the opportunity to select a preferred gender is not deemed unfavourable, it is acknowledged that some individuals associate safety considerations with specific genders, contributing to their perception.
Understanding gender preferences is crucial for ride-hailing companies to effectively cater to their diverse customer base, as gender disparity could also affect driver recruitment and retention. Recognizing the underrepresentation of female drivers, ride-hailing companies can take proactive measures to attract and retain more women within their driver pool.
This may involve implementing inclusive policies, and safety opportunities, providing support networks, and addressing any barriers or challenges female drivers face.
Moving forward, ride-hailing companies must address this issue by implementing inclusive practices, fostering diversity, and promoting equal opportunities for all drivers, regardless of gender, especially in a world striving for equality.
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