This summary is provided by the IPR Digital Media Research Center

Dr. Vlasceanu and Dr. Amodio examined how biased image searches can shape people’s beliefs about the number of men and women who hold particular occupations.

Google image searches for the word “person” were conducted in 153 countries in August and November 2021. Then, a series of three studies were conducted in December 2021, January, and February 2022 with 130, 137, and 128 participants respectively. Participants were shown fake screenshots of Google searches for professions not commonly known and asked if a man or woman was more likely to do the job.

Key findings include:

1.) Participants who saw more gender-balanced Google search results were more likely to say the profession was female-dominated and chose to hire more women.
–Male-dominated image searches reinforced existing societal biases against women in professions.

2.) Before being shown the screenshots and participants said that the professions were likely to be dominated by men.
–Participants who were shown male-dominated search images were more likely to expect men to be in the roles and more likely to say they would select them when choosing applicants.

3.) Countries with higher levels of gender inequality had a higher disparity in the number of men and women in Google image search results for the term “person.”

4.) Search results we see for particular professions can affect not only our own assumptions and biases about the roles that men and women hold but the way we behave.

Find the original journal article here.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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