VIDEO: S.H.E. aims to take the bias out of search results

This sounds pretty cool, right? The initiative has Nastia Liukin’s endorsement:

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ATHLETE. Who do you think of when you hear (or search for) that term? More likely than not, it’s probably my male counterparts. @Pantene is taking steps to change this by releasing S.H.E.: Search Human Equalizer, a search tool that shows us what a world without bias can look like. With S.H.E., search terms like “greatest entrepreneurs,” “greatest engineers,” and “greatest athletes” will now be more balanced, helping to address underrepresentation and the perpetuation of cultural stereotypes that enable gender inequality. I’m proud to stand behind this initiative, because young girls deserve to see themselves in whatever they dream and aspire to be. Shout out to all of the strong, dedicated, and courageous women who, to me, are the definition of ATHLETE: @shawnjohnson @marylouretton @simonebiles @serenawilliams #SheTransforms @thrive #ad #PowerToTransform #SheTransforms

A post shared by Nastia Liukin (@nastialiukin) on Apr 30, 2019 at 7:53am PDT


We gave the extension a try by searching “best athletes”. The results were pretty cool:

Without the equalizer:

With the equalizer:

The algorithm doesn’t flood the results with women; rather, it removes the human bias when presenting results. The initiative’s website offers a vague explanation of how it all works:

“Search engines understand a query, determine relevance, and present results. As a browser extension, S.H.E. operates on the search backend, filtering and repositioning results to yield more equalized, accurate representations.”

The site includes some other fun statistics as well:

Only 10% of search results for “CEO” depict women, despite women comprising 28% of the occupation. Search any common job and when women appear, they are lower in the results than men 60% of the time.1When you search “great hair” or “perfect hair,” the results prioritize white women with sleek locks. Our search engine algorithms are capturing our stereotypes and serving them back to us in the form of biased results. With biases like these, it’s no surprise that women are almost three times as likely to say that their gender made their job success more difficult.2