Algorithms used by websites such as Google and Facebook attempt to pull up the best answers or results based on a given user’s interests and known information. However, that doesn’t seem to be as useful for women seeking jobs. According to a Carnegie Mellon study, Google displays far fewer ads for lucrative executive jobs for women than for men. Through creating fake accounts that had similar credentials but different gender identities, it was found that ads listing high-paying jobs on Google were shown almost 2,000 times to the male group but less than 400 times to their female counterparts. This is not the first time algorithms have been sexist; many have also been racist, as evidenced by Flickr’s image recognition tools tagging black people as “apes.” It’s difficult to chalk out how much of this is linked to the algorithm itself and how much is linked to human and user behavior. For that reason, according to researcher Annupam Datta, more scholarship is needed in this field, given that “many important decisions in society these days are being made by algorithms.”
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