Male Sellers on eBay Have an Edge Over Women, Study Finds

Feb 19, 2016

Photo credit: Laura McDermott for The New York Times

By Pam Belluck

Successful sellers on eBay know certain things matter: item description, appealing photos, strong seller ratings and, of course, price.

Now, a study published Friday in the journal Science Advances suggested another factor might make a subtle difference: whether the seller is a man or woman. Using data supplied by the company, researchers analyzed some 630,000 auction transactions on eBay in the United States and reported that, on average, when men and women with equal selling reputations sold the same products, women received lower prices than men.

The difference was far less pronounced for used items: Women sellers received about 97 cents for every dollar men received. But with new items, where the authors say direct comparison is easier, women received about 80 cents on average for every dollar men sellers received.

“The basic point — that people have different expectations of women versus men and so we treat them very differently in the world — it’s fascinating and depressing,” said Linda Babcock, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who was not involved in the study.


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