More importantly, researchers tried to find out whether the gender biases in image search results affected how people perceived those occupations. The answer was yes. Volunteers were asked a series of questions about a particular job, including how many men and women worked in that field. Two weeks later, the researchers showed them a set of manipulated search image results and asked the same questions. This shifted their estimates, accounting for seven per cent of second opinions. The results prompted the researchers to question whether image search algorithms should be changed. “Our hope is that this will become a question that designers of search engines might actually ask,” said Sean Munson, a professor of human-centered design and engineering. “They may come to a range of conclusions, but I would feel better if people are at least aware of the consequences and are making conscious choices around them.” Read more about gender equality:
Matuszek, however, explained that Google wasn’t solely to blame for the search results. Its part of a cycle: How people perceive things affects the search results, which affect how people perceive things,” she said. Matuszek recalled a robotics lecture where a male colleague illustrated researchers in his presentation as all guys, classic nerds . The caretaker was a plump woman in her 30s who was wearing a pink suit”. With this in mind, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, teamed up with image providers to create 2,500 images of female leadership in contemporary work and life. This included a woman shaving her face, and another trying to saw off a man’s head. According to Pam Grossman, Getty’s director of visual trends, it was all a effort to combat viral examples such as “Women laughing alone with salad“. “Images can influence the way we perceive each other,” Grossman said, “and, frankly, the way we perceive ourselves.” Matuszek highlighted thatGoogle search results weren’t the real problem. The changes in behaviour found in people after her research suggested an unconscious bias. The takeaway isnt that we should change the way search works,” she said. “This kind of thing could tie into whether someone gets hired for something. You could see a female engineer in a job interview and think she looks less competent.” You should question why. Concerned with issues surrounding gender diversity in business Don’t miss Real Business’s First Womenprogramme:Drawing on ten years of the First Women movement and the phenomenal network of pioneering women the Awards has created, this programme features The First Women AwardsAnd The First Women Summit designed to educate, mentor and inspire women in all levels of business.By Shan Schutte
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