By Ila Ananya
You might have seen The New York Times’ recent piece on how Uber pushes its drivers to work more, using a bunch of psychological tricks that essentially result in maximizing the company’s growth.
As Slate pointed out though, the strangest thing about Uber’s entire experiment has been to have fake women employees (fake because they’re actually men), to send drivers messages to get them to stay on their job for longer, when they would actually have signed off. Of course this whole manipulation makes us uncomfortable, but one of the things Uber seems to have found is that the drivers are more likely to listen to [obey] women managers who tell them to work longer.
We’re sure everyone remembers how Uber recently came under major criticism for being extremely lethargic about dealing with complaints of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the workplace. Male supervisors had a history of sexual harassing women employees, and when an ex-Uber engineer had talked about harassment and misogyny, Uber essentially did nothing. It seems really off that Uber now thinks they can simply encourage their managers to pretend to be women—not only because it’s essentially manipulation, but also because Uber seems to want to use women for their advantage, without actually wanting to do anything for them.
Closer home, it reminds us vaguely of this humanoid that HDFC bank had come up with—the one that looked suspiciously like a woman. It even had a bindi, and its job was to greet and guide customers to relevant counters in the bank. We’d pointed this out earlier too: HDFC could very well have done this without ascribing it a gender, particularly since they’re supposed to be doing the greeting jobs. As Slate pointed out, it’s similar to Cortana or Siri (I know a lot of people who seem to love her voice and think it’s super sexy), being female, because “women supposedly seem less threatening, more helpful, and more apt for administrative work.” Of course Uber doesn’t seem to have a problem using this ridiculous bias to their advantage.