Watch CBS News

Sexist Google Algorithm? Women Shown Fewer Ads For High-Paying Jobs, Study Finds

(CBS SF) -- It's no secret: Google has long been tracking our Internet searches to generate customized ads based on our interests.

But new findings from Carnegie Mellon University claim Google's targeted ad algorithm is downright discriminatory, particularly for women.

The team of researchers used a home-grown tool called AdFisher to simulate the browsing activities of web users.

It found that fake male job seekers were much more likely than females with the same qualifications to be shown ads for high-paying executive jobs when they visited places like news websites.

The study also claims Google's transparency tool called "Ad Settings" isn't divulging all the potentially sensitive information it uses for targeting ads.

"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," Anupam Datta, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, told MIT Technology Review. "This is a concerning from a societal standpoint."

Google's ad system influences the kind of information people are exposed to, and ultimately the decisions they make, Datta goes on to say.

RELATED: Columbia Law Professor Argues That Google Is 'Degrading' Search Results To Bolster Its Own Properties

Google did not officially respond to the researchers about their findings last year.

Earlier this year, Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney claimed Google ads related to criminal records are more likely to pop up when "black-sounding names" are searched.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.