Sexism is Alive and Well According to the Internet

Many Millennials ascribe to the notion that sexism is dead and we can all rejoice in our equality. The reality, however, is that sexism is alive and well. To highlight the disturbing prevalence of sexism in today’s global society, the UN has created an ad campaign using Google’s autocomplete feature to complete statements about women.

The autocomplete feature uses the most common previously searched phrases to anticipate the rest of the phrase a searcher has entered. The UN posters feature Google’s automatic assumptions about the phrases “women shouldn’t,” “women cannot,” “women need to,” and “women should,” and the results are concerning.

It is hard to believe that, in 2013, the first autocomplete response to “women should” is “stay at home,” or the first result for “women need to” is “be put in their place.” These search responses remind us that the Internet is global and, as a whole, the globe is not yet safe for women. 60 percent of school-age children around the world who are not in school are girls, and, in many countries, girls may be killed for even trying to attend school.

The reality of the situation, which the new UN campaign brings to light, is that, globally, women are still very often oppressed and discriminated against.

Part of the algorithm that determines Google’s autocomplete suggestions is location. This means that the suggestions will vary depending on where the searcher is located. Searching these phrases from Chestnut Hill reveals the following suggestions:

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google2When one searches the same phrases for men, the results are very different. The UN campaign focuses on women, perhaps failing to acknowledge the other side of the story. The results for men include:

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The reason why so many people are googling “men need to ejaculate” remains a concerning unknown, but it confirms the inequality the UN campaign seeks to address. “Men shoulder bag” is certainly a far cry from “women should know their place.”

The UN’s Google autocomplete ad campaign sheds light on the current situation of women around the world, reminding us that sexism and oppression still rear their ugly heads across the globe.

Screenshots via google.com

Featured image via Getty Images.

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