Episode 1: Search Engines and Bias

Did you know that if you do an image search for ‘person’ the results contain twice as many men as women?

In this episode we investigate why this is the case by looking at bias  and how it has permeated our online world, and in particular, search engines. Search engines now have the power to influence how we see the world,  guiding us towards some content over others, catering to our interests based on our internet history.


Guests this week include:

  • Riham Satti and Vivek Doraiswamy, who are the CEO and CTO of MeVitae, a company that attempts to detect and overcome cognitive biases using new technologies
  • Jahna Otterbacher, an Assistant Professor at the Open University in Cyprus
  • Paul Clough, Professor of Information Retrieval in the Information School at the University of Sheffield

Music in this episode is ‘Quitting Time’ by Patrick Lee.

Further reading

Jahna, Paul and Jo Bates’ research paper: Competent Men and Warm Women: Gender Stereotypes and Backlash in Image Search Results

Guardian article on autocomplete bias from 2016

The ‘Romanians are smart’ campaign

Psychology Today article on stereotype threat: Why it’s dangerous to label people

Map of IAT test scores across Europe