The problem with Google images

These are the results on Google images in the UK for the search 'CEO'. You might notice these pictures have something in common: they are nearly all of white middle-aged men.

The results are similar in America, where 11 per cent of the top 100 images returned when searching for CEOs are of females, despite 27 per cent of CEOs in the US being women.

According to researchers from the University of Washington, that's a problem because image results can actually influence people's perceptions of how competent each gender could be at different jobs.

In a paper to be presented this month at the Association for Computing Machinery's CHI conference, researchers asked people a series of questions about a job. Two weeks later they asked the same people the same questions and showed them manipulated search engine results on Google images - and they found that the workers whose gender matched the majority search results were seen as more professional.

"You need to know whether gender stereotyping in search image results actually shifts people's perceptions before you can say whether this is a problem. And, in fact, it does -- at least in the short term," said co-author Sean Munson, UW assistant professor of human centred design and engineering.

More: Who’s a CEO? Google image results can shift gender biases

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