Who Are We Rating?

So, who are we rating anyway? Why do we care about stars versus negative/neutral/positive experience metrics? Of course, we need some way to assess sellers and their products, but I argue that this metric unequally impacts the most vulnerable business owners. As of the most recent report of this U.S. marketplace at the time of this writing, 86% of sellers on this platform identified as female (Drah, 2021). These are employment opportunities for women to be business and micro-business owners that are self-made. They are not involved in multi-level marketing schemes or employed by someone else; these are ways women can make their own hours and own their own businesses. For many years, this platform encouraged its users to quit their day jobs and go full time with their craft. These sellers are also twice as likely to be under the age of 35, with a median age of 39. This represents a lot of work-at-home parents, those between more stable employment, or part-time workers. Aligned with the national income average, 17% of sellers make less than $25K per household. Additionally, 97% of these shops are run from home. On the other side of things, 70% of buyers identify as female. However, the site has announced that they are encouraging and focusing on bringing more men to the platform in 2023 (Ryan, 2022).

According to Pew research (Smith and Anderson, 2016), men are more likely to read and leave reviews and younger consumers are more likely to leave reviews. Anecdotally, those men have been more critical, citing that they never leave five star reviews, are unwilling to change a review based on new information, or even accept a refund. This gives me pause, as this means that the site is bringing a potentially more critical population to rate and review predominantly young women, who are historically underemployed and underrepresented in business ownership opportunities and spaces (Lake, 2023). And, despite women nearly reaching gender parity in 2023 in business education programs, they still aren’t compensated or funded equally — in most cases making half of their male counterparts (Arora, 2020).