Google Image’s Gender Bias

Not all doctors or CEOs are men. Not all nurses are women. But if you took Google’s word for it, then that’s what it would appear to be.

According to a new study by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Maryland, there is a noticeable gender bias in the image search results for some jobs. This under-representation of women in image search results impacts people’s ideas about professional gender ratios in the real world.

This is what happens when you search “nurse” in Google images:google1

This is what happens when you search “doctor” in Google images:google2

This is what happens when you search “CEO” in Google images:google3


As you can see, it turns out that for some search terms, like “chief executive officer,” the gender imbalance on Google is a lot worse than it is in real life. Only 11 percent of the people shown in an image search for “chief executive officer” were women, while BLS data indicates that 27 percent of CEOs are women. The reality doesn’t match image searching. Similarly, a search for telemarketers showed 64 percent women, even though in reality it’s about a 50-50 gender split. Nearly 60 percent of bartenders are female, but in the image search results, only 23 percent were.

“I was actually surprised at how good the image search results were, just in terms of numbers,” said Matt Kay, a co-author of the study. “They might slightly underrepresent women and they might slightly exaggerate gender stereotypes, but it’s not going to be totally divorced from reality.”

 Here is what happens when you search for a term like “Female construction worker”: google4

You will see that the top hits depicting women as construction workers are wearing skimpy costumes posing suggestively with various tools. No one would take this as something professional.

Source: Huffington Post