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Google’s search algorithm shows CEO jobs to men, but not to women

A University study reveals that when searching for a job online, if you’re a woman looking for a CEO job, you won’t see them in the sidebar, but men will. Why?

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Google shows CEO gigs to men more than women

Google is a one-stop-shop for everything you ever wanted to know. How many ounces are in a liter? Google it. What was the name of the actor that played Michael in “The Godfather”? Google it. Looking for leads on a new job? You guessed it, Google it.

However, if you are a woman utilizing Google as a means for job searching, use caution. It was recently revealed that Google contains an algorithm that makes Chief Executive Officer positions more apparent to male users than to female users. Yeah, you read that right.

This news comes right after evidence that if you search “CEO” on Google Images, chances are your screen will be filled with pictures of suited-up, white men. A paper was published this past April by a research team at Carnegie Mellon University that brought about the claim that Google neglects to show many ads for women searching for high-paying jobs.

University tracks job search behavior

Carnegie Mellon professor, Annupam Datta, spoke to Technology Review about his teams’ results. “I think our findings suggest that there are parts of the ad ecosystem where kinds of discrimination are beginning to emerge and there is a lack of transparency. This is concerning from a societal standpoint.”

His team came to find this evidence through a tool they created called Ad Fisher. Ad Fisher examines how a Google user’s behavior will influence the personalized ads that they will see. The team developed a series of fake Google accounts so that they could closely track the job searching behavior.

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The ads targeted men, but could be the advertisers’ parameters

Every account searched the exact same websites. The only change in account activity was that some were labeled as male users while others were labeled female. What the team discovered was that Google featured more ads for what it took to be a male user as opposed to a female user.

The target ads were for high-paying executive jobs and the results that were found are upsetting news for a goal towards workplace equality. The ads were featured to the male group 1,852 while they were only shown to the female group 318 times.

Though the bias of these ads is being shown through Google, it could be the advertisement itself being programmed to be shown only to certain users. The algorithm may just be operating in conjunction with how the advertisement is set up to display. While it is unclear exactly what is causing the search engine to behave this way, it is clear that more needs to be done to prohibit blatant inequality.


Staff Writer, Taylor Leddin is a publicist and freelance writer for a number of national outlets. She was featured on Thrive Global as a successful woman in journalism, and is the editor-in-chief of The Tidbit. Taylor resides in Chicago and has a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Illinois State University.

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