A recent study suggests that being a woman on eBay may be bad for business since female sellers tend to get lower bids on their items than their male counterparts even though seller ratings are the same.
The new study was based on 630,000 auction transactions on the e-commerce site. According to the analysis, there’s a trend for women to sell their stuff for less when they compete against men with same ratings.
The difference was blatant in new items, i.e. women received 80 cents whenever a male counterpart received 1 dollar. In used items, women got 97 cents/1 dollar. Study authors noted that people still tend to have different expectations of women.
Linda Babcock, an economist with Carnegie Mellon University who hasn’t conducted the study, noted that the findings came as a surprise as eBay is a place where sellers can sell just about everything to anyone without specifying their sex.
Fortunately, for some specific items including pet items or toys, women got more than men. Plus, they tend to grow reputation faster than men even though they do not have the same experience.
Surprisingly, the research also pointed out that buyers were discriminating against women without being aware.
“We actually think that most of it is unconscious,”
noted Tamar Kricheli-Katz, lead author of the study and researcher with Tel Aviv University in Israel.
Kricheli-Katz explained that an unconscious behavior is also impossible to change.
Additionally, researchers conducted a large-scale survey to see whether buyers could guess seller’s sex form their profiles. In more than 1,120 cases of 2,000, buyers were correct even though profile information was not 100 percent accurate.
Furthermore, the team performed another experiment to confirm their finding. They asked random sellers to place a bid on an Amazon gift card sold by a female seller and a male seller. The woman got $83.34 on the item, while the man got $87.42.
EBay declined to comment on the study’s results. The company only said that the study was not funded by the e-commerce giant. Additionally, the site underscored its policy on not disclosing its users’ sex, unless they choose to do it themselves.
Still, on a smaller scale the findings do not seem to be confirmed. A small experiment showed that female eBay sellers do not perceive any difference between their business and the business of male users. Most women said that gender on the site was a nonissue.
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