March 28, 2020

Research Article: “Occupational Gender Bias Prevalent In Online Images, Rutgers Study Finds”

From Rutgers University:

Rutgers researchers say gender bias and stereotypes corresponding to certain occupations are prevalent on digital and social media platforms.

The study, published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, finds that online images of men and women in four professions – librarian, nurse, computer programmer, and civil engineer – tend to represent and reinforce existing gender stereotypes.

In the study, Rutgers researchers analyzed search results for images of people in each of the four occupations on four digital media platforms: Twitter, NYTimes.com, Wikipedia, and Shutterstock. They also compared the search results to the gender representation of each occupation as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The results showed gender stereotypes and biases to be prevalent. Women were overrepresented as librarians and nurses and underrepresented as computer programmers and civil engineers, especially when the collection and curation of content is largely automated by an algorithm, such as on Twitter.

However, on platforms where individuals can generate and curate content more directly, such as the NYTimes.com and Shutterstock, stereotypes were more likely to be challenged. Search results of NYTimes.com, for example, produced images of civil engineers who are women, and nurses who are men, more often than would be expected given their representation in the Labor Statistics.

Learn More, Read the Complete Summary Article

Note: Along with the final version of the paper (linked above, paywall) a preprint version (open) of the paper is available on the lead author’s website.

The paper is titled:

“Female Librarians and Male Computer Programmers? Gender Bias in Occupational Images on Digital Media Platforms”
31 pages; PDF. 

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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