Google AdSense shows lower-paying jobs to women

Occurred: July 2015

Google's AdSense ad-serving system is more likely to display adverts offering higher salaries to people identifying themselves as males than females, according to a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the International Computer Science Institute.

Using a custom-built programme called AdFisher that simulates users’ web-browsing habits, the researchers discovered that users identifying as male saw a career-coaching ad on the Times of India website 1,852 times, while users identifying as women were shown it 318 times.

The complexity and opacity of Google's ad targetting system made it hard to explain the researchers' findings. 'I think our findings suggest that there are parts of the ad ecosystem where kinds of discrimination are beginning to emerge and there is a lack of transparency,' one said. 

Operator: Alphabet/Google
Developer: Alphabet/Google

Country: USA

Sector: Business/professional services

Purpose: Serve advertising

Technology: Advertising management system
Issue: Bias/discrimination - gender

Transparency: Governance; Black box

Research, advocacy 🧮