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Is Google A Sexist Search Engine?

May 9th, 2007

In an apparent insult to feminists everywhere, queries into Google’s search engine for common phrases such as “she invented” and “she succeeded” are returning suggestions such as “did you mean he invented” across the top of the search results pages.

Although many other queries such as “she conquered”, “she led”, and “she built” are returning similar “corrections”, Google does not seem to be giving suggestions for phrases such as “she followed” or “she failed”, leading many people to speculate about whether or not the company (or at least the search engine algorithm) is inherently biased against women.

Meanwhile, Yahoo’s search engine seems to be more gender neutral, offering no suggestions other than the actual search results for most of the above keywords, although it returns a rather bizarre suggestion of “did you mean shelled” for the “she led” query.

Interestingly enough, MSN Live Search may be the most female friendly of the major search engines. Not only does it not attempt to “correct” any of the queries, but it also returns a result of “Famous Women Inventors” in the #2 position for “she invented”, along with a very interesting account of the Amazons from ancient Greece in the #2 position for “she conquered”.

In another curious twist, for the query “she led” MSN returns in the #1 position “Where She Led Me. She led me to a horizontal spanking post, and had me bend over it”. From this I have surmised that (depending somewhat on one’s mood at the time) being spanked by females at MSN is probably better than being “shelled” by them at Yahoo.

Finally, while I have not been able to determine exactly which source first published the story on the “sexist search engine” topic, the Digg thread on it seems to be one of the most popular. There are plenty of zingers in the Digg thread comments, ranging from the unbelievably ignorant to some humorous examples of search engine quirks like the Google result for “playstation 3 cures cancer”.


One Response to “Is Google A Sexist Search Engine?”

  1. comment number 1 by: Harold

    This was very funny - your comments. The problem with Google was not so funny. Hope they address this soon… Great blog!

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