Femininity as a gig? An interface analysis of childcare and sugar dating platforms.


  • Margherita Di Cicco University of Milan, Italy
  • Elief Vandevenne Free University of Brussels




This study seeks to investigate how the design and affordances of childcare and sugar dating platforms construct gender in the work roles of these occupations primarily performed by women. And second, to understand whether these role expectations contribute to the reproduction and reinforcement of normative imaginaries of femininity. To this end, we conducted an interface analysis of two work platforms, namely Seeking and Babysits. The analysis consisted of a walk-through method of the login procedure and a visual analysis of the homepages. We conclude that the design and affordances of these platforms confirm normative gender roles, which justifies women’s occupational segregation. First, through the communication on occupational role expectations, the transactions with customers and the blurring of the working conditions negotiation. Second, through the expectations surrounding femininity and the portrayal of a desired aesthetic norm. And third, through the asymmetric rules adopted by the platform and the facilitation of higher-risk contacts.

Keywords: platform labour, sex work, care work, sugar dating, platformisation; reproductive labour, interface analysis, digital ethnography.