Feminist group wants Google to correct the imbalance in their doodles

I don’t think there’s anything malicious going on here, but there does seem to be a trend, a trend in the wrong direction. First, some facts from the linked article:

  • Google celebrated 445 individuals in Doodles on its various homepages throughout the world.
  • An overwhelming 357 of those people were men–and 275 of those men were white.
  • 77 Doodles celebrated women–but only 19 celebrated women of color.
  • There were zero women of color honored in a global Doodle (Doodles seen everywhere around the world) until 2013, when Ella Fitzgerald was featured.
  • Although women make up more than 50% of the world’s population, they’ve made up only 17% of Google Doodles honoring people from 2010 to 2013.
  • White people made up 91% of global Doodles and 74% of total Doodles honoring people from 2010 to 2013.
  • Of the 26% of Doodles honoring people of color, only 18% honored women of color–that’s only 4.3% of every Doodle honoring a person from 2010 to 2013.

Follow the headline link for a chart that brings this all into focus.

What’s going on here Google? This point has been made before. From an open letter to Google written by PhD student Ann Martin in 2011:

For years, I have watched Google Doodles contribute to the viewpoint that it is men who create the world we live in and innovate to improve it. I continued to hope that Google would recognize and address this obvious bias. Because you have not spoken up for the women in STEM, creativity, innovation, the arts, and the humanities, I am speaking up for us.

Again, this letter was published in 2011. Since then the numbers have gotten worse. You are better than this, Google.



  • Georgij

    This is stupid. There are more men than women who did a big impact on our society. Do they suggest that there should be women featured who did less impact on society rather than men who did more impact? In my opinion the work of the individual should be looked at and not the color or the gender of individual. And that is what I see as equality.

    • Lukas

      Yes, what you suggest is exactly what Google should do: if, on any given day, they have the choice of either promoting a man who everybody already knows, or a woman or person of color who people might not know, they should pick the woman or person of color.

      In no way should Google be required to be “statistically objective” in who they pick. Google’s logo is not a history lesson, it’s a hopefully interesting little thing that might teach you something new.

      So Google should promote women and people of color at the expense of white men, because it’s more interesting, because we already know about the white dude, and because it’s good for society to promote women and people of color who are great artists or inventors or scientists or mathematicians. Because it will help teach today’s young girls, and today’s young people of color, that they don’t necessarily have to follow traditional roles, that other options are available to them. Having more talented people enter STEM fields, not discouraging potential future leaders and inventors from entering these fields, is good for everybody.

      I have a question for you, though: did you think through your own comment before posting it? Do you realize that you’re basically saying that things should stay the way they’ve always been, because that’s the way they’ve always been? That Google should not promote women and people of color merely because historically, women and people of color have been discriminated against, and discouraged from entering these fields? That past discrimination should guide future behavior?

      That’s what I’m hearing when I read your comment, and I think it’s a sad statement.

      • Georgij

        You totally misunderstood the point. I said that the work should be looked at, not the color or gender of individual. Google celebrates the WORK of the people by making those doodles. People who done something great for humanity and those people from historical point of view were usually white men and it is obvious why it usually were white men, but it isn’t a point. The point is that the great work that moved humanity should be appreciated and the person that did that work should be highlighted.

        • Lukas

          And you totally misunderstood my point. Google does not need to be statistically objective in who they choose. Nobody forces them to only pick the people who made the most visible contributions. In fact, Google should not pick these people, because everybody already knows about them.

          There are enough women and people of color who did amazing, important, humanity-moving work to supply a new doodle every day for the next two decades. Google doodles would be way more interesting, and could do a lot more good, if Google picked more of these people, rather than the same old white dudes we already know about.

          Yes, humanity-moving work should be appreciated. But humanity-moving work done by old white dudes already is appreciated. If you want to maximize appreciation of this work, and if you want to maximize future contribution to this kind of work, you need to promote the people that we don’t already know about (as your own comments apply prove). That means women and people of color.

          • Georgij

            How do you know that the ”humanity-moving work done by old white dudes already is appreciated”? As I see today that the work of musician or actor is more appreciated than the decades of work of humanity-moving work. If I asked most people in the university, they wouldn’t know about the majority of ‘old white dudes’, but they would be able to name many times more people that are in the entertainment business and not evolving humanity. And in entertainment business there is your ‘equality’, because it isn’t history and right now people are treated equally and everyone has (almost) the same chances of becoming successful.

            But we shouldn’t forget those who done the great stuff and moved the society to where it is right now, no matter how racist of sexist society was back the.

          • Lukas

            I agree that musicians and people who do sports are over-appreciated, and scientists are under-appreciated. But doesn’t that just mean that you support my position that Google should promote people who are under-appreciated? I rarely ever see anyone on a Google doodle that I didn’t already know about.

      • Pete

        So your answer to google wishing to honor people whose contribution had the most impact on society is to have them pick people obscure people with smaller impact?

  • http://stackoverflow.com/users/1971315/david-ravetti David Ravetti

    Activists in general, regardless of cause, tend to make the mistake of approaching issues from a negative rather than a positive viewpoint. Attacking or pointing out flaws in another person or organization tends to close them down and put them on the defensive. I believe a positive approach would be more productive.

    As an example, this group could present Google with a 365 day calendar with suggested doodle-worthy individuals for each day, including a short synopsis of each one to show why they are historically relevant/interesting. The Google engineers and artists who work on the doodles went through the same education systems and live in the same societies as everyone else. Therefore, they are simply perpetuating the same list of historically important individuals that are already commonly known. If you help to educate them, maybe they’ll be better able to help educate others.

  • dtj

    Perhaps, to seem like less of a whiner, the person should have put force their case a bit more and included plenty of “On you had Person X, but you overlooked Person Y, whose contributions were atleast equal or more to person X”. Sometimes those who make very important contributions aren’t heralded widely. As an example, do you know offhand what important worldwide contribution Australians Barry Marshall and Robin Warren made? Hint: They are not Bee Gees.

  • def4

    In honor of this and other sillyness we should make February 29th as an international day of celebration for all frustrated people that whine about all the inane bullshit one can and can’t imagine.

    Middle aged white people are the ones who create and rule the world. If you want their place you’re going to have to take it.

    • Lukas

      You do realize that this is just what they are doing, right? They’re asserting their position. So your comment both recommends that they do what they do now, and calls what they do “inane”. Which is it?

      • def4

        My comment recommends that they assert themselves more in the “creating and ruling the world” part, not just in “getting recognition” part.

  • Yehat

    I’m about to vomit if I read more equality, gender, race or minorities motivated “speech”. There is something so false and confused in the tone of such articles and the overall trend of their increased “popularity”. Dave Mark, i don’t know you, but you and others like you are obsessed people. Unless you just use a “modern” approach to score at Google’s account. No matter hoe much you dislike Google (me too) some tactics are extremely shortsighted.

    • Lukas

      I don’t know who are the “obsessed people”, those who see inequality and decide to fight it, or those who, like you, seem to obsess with keeping inequality in place, and “vomit” at the mere thought that there could be a society where people are treated more equally.

      • Yehat

        The usual ignorance about “equality”. People have equal rights, but their abilities and other qualities are far from equal. So your “fight” is for what exactly?

  • Michael

    Someone is actually tracking the gender and racial breakdown of the Google doodles?

    Really?

  • Pete

    Yes. And they should give more noble prizes to the Chinese and Indians because there are more of them than American or Europeans.

    • WatchingBothSidesArguing

      I have been a man of changes, and i also have been a conservative man. I have experience in both fields.

      Since google is servicing billions of people, google IS subject to them. If the billions of people believe that the doodles, or…lets say the white background of google is fascist and leads to no change, google must have a rainbow in their background and even my cat as a doodle (i would be more happy seeing MY cat as a doodle rather a white-male-scientist or a black-female-acrobat). Imagine this adoption of changes in background color, doodles etc to other more practical things also, like search results priority, quality, user controls, buttons, functions etc etc… In general imagine google coming to a point where doing exactly what the people who use their service say. Then, after the changes apply, the short-sighted billions of people will stop using google, because they will get tired of the “diversity” and all the proposed changes will lead to disorder and bad service. Then, the same people will use another search engine who will be more “simple” (as google was ) and functional. So what should happen?

      Both are correct.

      Conservatives are building something ordered and functional, but they wont ever look for something different and Leftists-Feminists (whatever they called) will always try to wreck stuff and bring disorder. Conservatives are the logical who try to calculate the future, Leftists are the emotional who try to bring a disorder by wrecking the present, thus giving the chance of something better to arise.

      We should thank the leaders (of which most of ARE white males) because their actions created the world as we live in and we are not still in animal state, and we should thank all other short-sighted leftist people for pushing us for change and lead us to a better world.

      So, whats my opinion on this problem?

      Google should apply these changes and destroy itself, in order for something better to raise up.

      This cycle will bring us closer to the truth.

      Whats my opinion on people arguing?

      Keep arguing. The one who will prevail, will be the righteous winner.

      “war is the father of all things” -Heraclitus

      p.s. “war” does not mean just the gun-fighting war, “war” means rivalry. English is an empirical, disordered, insufficient language.

  • fjordprefect

    Personally, I wish they’d come up with something totally new. I’ve been looking at the doodles for years now and I don’t even care anymore.