Will your ride be cancelled? Fighting bias in rideshares

I think many of our listeners will agree, that while the timeline to safely do so remains uncertain, we are all looking forward to a day when we can once again spend time with friends on a night out, head to a movie theater or a favorite museum, or frankly, do anything outside the house.

When the time comes, people will once again rely on rideshare platforms like Uber or Lyft to get them where they need to go, much as they did prior to the coronavirus pandemic. What they may not know, is the role that bias based on race and sexual orientation could play in whether or not their ride will be canceled.

Unfortunately, according to new research in the INFORMS journal Management Science “When Transparency Fails: Bias and Financial Incentives in Ridesharing Platforms,” under-represented minorities have more than twice as likely to have their ride canceled compared to Caucasians.

Joining me is Jorge Mejia professor with Indiana University, who along with Chris Parker of American University, were the authors of this study. In this episode we will discuss their work and what can be done to address this disturbing bias.

think one of the very encouraging signs for this conversation is that it’s actually becoming an important part of the research agenda, even in our community. So the fact that our community is engaged and is encouraging this type of research which I think is really helpful. And I also think that we as a nation and a society need to start thinking about the responsibilities that different entities have to reduce some of the discrimination and the bias that we observe.

Interviewed this episode:

Jorge Mejia, Chris Parker

Indiana University, American University

Jorge Mejia is an Assistant Professor at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He is interested in understanding the antecedents and impacts of social media through the analysis of large amounts of data. His current projects employ unstructured data from social media to predict business outcomes. He is also interested in predictors of success in early-stage tech entrepreneurship. Prior to joining Kelley, Dr. Mejia was a technology and management consultant, an industry analyst and an entrepreneur.


Chris Parker is a David Kronrad Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor in the Information Technology and Analytics Department of the Kogod School of Business at American University. My research addresses questions at the interface of Operations Management and Information Systems. Prior to joining AU, I was on the faculty of the Supply Chain and Information Systems Department of the Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University. I received a PhD at London Business School in the Management Science and Operations Department, a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics and Quantitative Studies at the Spears School of BusinessOklahoma State University and a Master of Science in Computational Finance at the Centre for Computational Finance and Economic AgentsUniversity of Essex.