A revealing look at how negative biases against women of colour are embedded in search engine results and algorithms

Run a Google search for “black girls”—what will you find? “Big Booty” and other sexually explicit terms are likely to come up as top search terms. But, if you type in “white girls,” the results are radically different. The suggested porn sites and un-moderated discussions about “why black women are so sassy” or “why black women are so angry” presents a disturbing portrait of black womanhood in modern society.

In Algorithms of Oppression, Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Data discrimination is a real social problem; Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of colour, specifically women of colour.

Through an analysis of textual and media searches as well as extensive research on paid online advertising, Noble exposes a culture of racism and sexism in the way discoverability is created online. As search engines and their related companies grow in importance—operating as a source for email, a major vehicle for primary and secondary school learning, and beyond—understanding and reversing these disquieting trends and discriminatory practices is of utmost importance.

An original, surprising and, at times, disturbing account of bias on the internet, Algorithms of Oppression contributes to our understanding of how racism is created, maintained, and disseminated in the 21st century.


About Our Speaker:
 Safiya Umoja Noble is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Department of Information Studies where she serves as the Co-Director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry. She is the co-editor of two books, The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Culture and Class Online and Emotions.

Moderated by

Sarah Kaplan, Distinguished Professor and Director, Institute for Gender and the Economy, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto


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The Gender Analytics: Possibilities (GA:P) Event Series is an exciting multi-session online series. This unique online experience will highlight how emerging areas of analytics applied to issues around diversity and gender shape risks and opportunities for many organizations, operations and outcomes. Experts in data analytics, gender, and diversity, and inclusion more broadly will share their research and insights to an audience of business, academic, and government leaders.

The GA:P Event Series is being planned jointly by two Rotman research centers, the Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE) and TD Management Data and Analytics Lab co-organized by Susan Christoffersen (Co-Academic Director, TD MDAL), Sarah Kaplan (Director, GATE) and Matt Mitchell (Co-Academic Director, TD MDAL).

This event is co-hosted by the Institute for Gender and the Economy and the TD Management Data Analytics Lab.

Date: Wednesday April 28, 2021

Time: 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Location: Online

Venue: On April 21, Rotman Events will email registrants the link to the page where you can watch the livestream.

Please register here for this event.
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