Yes, Uber does discriminate against women and black people, says new study

If you have the sinking feeling cab drivers are judging you, you’re probably right. A new study shows that Uber drivers discriminate against people of color and women. And it’s not just Uber — it’s all drivers. The study was done by researchers at MIT, Stanford, and the University of Washington and was conducted over two years in Seattle and Boston with drivers from Uber, Lyft, and Flywheel. Undergrads from the University of Washington were given phones and told to take a certain route. They made notes about when they requested the ride, where they were being picked up and dropped off, and how long it took for drivers to accept their requests.

The participants took more than 1,500 rides to get all this data, and the results won’t be news to people of color, women, or anyone who lives in a “bad” neighborhood. Requests from black riders took anywhere from 16 to 28 percent longer to be accepted than white riders’ by both UberX and Lyft. If you take Lyft out of the equation, the requests took 29 to 35 percent longer to be accepted. Lyft drivers get to see a picture of the person and their name before they accept, while Uber drivers don’t get to see that data until after they accept the fare, at which point they can cancel.

That means when drivers see a black face pop up, they tend to not accept it right away. This kind of data isn’t new — you’ve probably heard about similar experiments with job applications, where researchers send out fake resumes with names that are stereotypically more “white” or more “black” sounding. Those with more “white-sounding” names usually got the call for an interview. The accounts the undergrads used for the Lyft and Uber experiment saw the same results.

Racism is very much alive and well. When it comes to gender discrimination, black men fared worse than black women. For the accounts that were male and African-American, the cancellation rate was 11.2 percent and for African-American women, it was 8.4 percent. Compare that to 4.5 percent for white dudes and 5.4 percent for white women (it’s about double if you’re bad at math). Worse, in low population density areas where getting a ride can be challenging, users with African-American-sounding names were cancelled on at a rate of 15.7 percent.

White privilege goes so deep that people of color can’t even get a ride. It also means that if you’re a black women trying to get home after a night out, you’re more likely to be stranded for a little bit longer and it’s going to cost you more, putting you at more danger than white men or women… and the cycle goes on and on.

Adding to the pile of discouraging news is the data that women were taken on longer rides than their male counterparts so drivers could charge them more or flirt with them. If you see your driver take a stupid route, you should speak up to avoid sitting in the car any longer than you have to, his flirting, or paying him extra.

So the next time you’re waiting for your car, know that a driver is making a subconscious (or very conscious) decision about whether they want you in the back of their car or not. The struggle is actually, quantifiably real.