Google Shows Women Fewer Ads For High-Paying Jobs Than Men
A study from Carnegie Mellon found that women are less likely to be shown ads for high-paying jobs while conducting a Google search than men, which is not precisely surprising, but it still makes me want to pinch the bridge of my nose and sigh loudly.
The study used an “automated testing rig” that created profiles for 17,370 male and female job seekers and then sent them off a-Googling. The researchers then tracked and analyzed the 600,000 ads those profiles were shown during the course of several different tests and experiments. One such test showed, for example, that men were way more likely to be shown ads for executive career coaching services: 1,812 male profiles were shown a particular ad for such a service as compared with only 318 women.
This probably doesn’t have so much to do with Google as it does with the target audiences advertisers set when they buy ads with Google, although the search engine’s algorithm could certainly be playing a role. I also have to wonder if real-live human behavior (rather than automated, targeted searches conducted by a computerized, fake human) would affect the advertisements shown, or if Google’s algorithm is complex enough to be able to tell the difference. The study had mainly to do, actually, with privacy settings on Google, and not job-searching alone, so there’s that to consider as well.
Regardless, it’s not particularly encouraging about advertisers’ motives and the gender gap in high-paying careers. In the Internet age, we have to not just watch out for discrimination in the hiring process, and not just discrimination in the recruiting process, but now also discrimination in the process of jobs being advertised.
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