A technology company has vowed to fight online sexism by inserting images of women into Google results.
Semcon, a Swedish multinational, launched a web browser plug-in to change what gets displayed by the allegedly prejudiced search engine.
The “Re-Search” extension launches parallel results fields so that searches like “engineer” show female people in hard hats as well as men:
The company claim their extension can “make image search gender balanced” – and will help end the social evil of stereotyping.
Promo material for the product said: “With the internet, many of us hoped we would get access to a more diverse set of images of different professions, and there is no question that the non-stereotypical images are out there.
“The problem is that they don’t show up in the search results, unless you search for them specifically.
“If we can present images of professions in a more balanced way to begin with, maybe we can take a first step towards better role models, images and balanced representation.”
The company is keen to point out its own gender balance credentials too – highlighting its aim of having a 40% female staff by 2020, which it said is as important to the company as financial success.
Heat Street took the extension for a test drive – and unfortunately if Semcon want to outsmart Google’s viciously sexist algorithm they may have to try a little harder.
As the screenshot shows, all the extension does is spot when you search from a pre-defined list of terms, then kick up a new window that searches the same thing with the word “female” or “male” added to the end.
So, “banker” opens a window searching for “banker female”, and dancer a window for “male dancer”.
Disappointingly, the list remains very narrow.
Biased results pages for searches like “sex offender”, “internet troll” and “murderer” remain uncorrected – and true equality remains elusive.