A Google search for ‘unprofessional hairstyles’ shows mostly black women

(Photo: Mic)

If you were to do a Google search right now for ‘unprofessional hairstyles for work’, then mostly images of black men and black women would be generated. BUZZ Fam, you probably heard that joke about the internet being racist, but I’m sure that’s all you thought it was-a joke.

However, when you search using the keywords ‘unprofessional hairstyles for work’, an array of images of black women and to a lesser extent, black men, are shown. Alternately, if you search for professional hairstyles for work, then you’ll be shown images of white people.

This was first reported by the Guardian Newspaper in 2016, and apparently nothing has changed. The algorithm is written by people that help the search to understand and collate relevant information according to the search keyword. 

However, Cathy Edwards, VP of Google Images told The Shaderoom why this is the case.

“Our Google Images search systems rely on a number of factors, including word matching, to surface results. For many of the results, the words ‘unprofessional hairstyles’ appear in the articles, and many of these stories are rightly denouncing the discrimination people of color face when it comes to their hair,” she said.

Acknowledging that the images may be alarming, for the purposes of clarity, Google has taken the liberty of adding captions to help people under the relevancy of the images.

“While we include captions to help people understand why these images are relevant to the query, we acknowledge that the association can be concerning and painful to see without the fuller context,”

“Ensuring that all people and communities are able to find helpful results in Google Images is something we care about deeply and are actively working to improve,” she added.