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Hey ladies, does Google think you’re a guy?

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Stacey Higginbotham (GigaOM), Barry Evans (Calxeda), Andrew Feldman (SeaMicro),Don Newell (AMD), Omid Tahernia (Tilera) - Structure 2011
I'm the lady in the orange dress.

Thanks to Google(s goog) trumpeting its new privacy policy and inviting users to explore their profiles with the search giant, there have been a few giggles over at GigaOM, and elsewhere on Twitter as my female friends and colleagues check their Google ad preference manager to discover that Google thinks they are male. For example, I’m in the 35-44-year-old male demographic based on my interest in Internet and Telecom as well as “Real Estate – Property Management.” I am assuredly female.

Two of our editors also fall into the male demographic based on their clicking habits associated with reading our sites and finding stories, while in their personal accounts they are both female. An impromptu Twitter quiz reveals many fellow ladies in tech are in the same position. I’m not going to dig too deeply into this, but at best it shows how far off we are from truly personalized and scary ad targeting, and at worst it gives a pretty sad indication of how technology is still clearly defined as a “male” activity.

This wouldn’t be so problematic if it weren’t an entire industry that employs both men and women and is a giant source of innovation and wealth creation. I wonder what my female friends in finance, medical or the legal professions see? It would be disheartening if Google classified those surfing categories as male.

So ladies, get out there and spout off about tech. Let’s show those demographic wunderkinds at Google that there are a few of us (in the 25-33 age range, thank you!) that think packets, semiconductors and programming are an equal-opportunity category. To see what Google thinks you are click here.

21 Responses to “Hey ladies, does Google think you’re a guy?”

  1. I’m not a guy, but Google thinks I am. I do lots of technology research, because I constantly need help understanding and staying on top of it. That makes me a guy???

  2. Brittany

    I’m perfectly fine with Google marketing to me as a male. Have you seen the marketing that gets targeted toward women? It is universally terrible. If Google thinking I’m a guy means that they don’t show me ads targeted toward a shrill harpy obsessed with clothes and reproduction, then fine, I’m a guy.

  3. Google gets a D-

    My generation has spent almost our entire adult lives trying to rid the workplace of sexual stereotypes and here we have Google classifying this 62 year old woman as a 35 to 44 yr old male because I am interested in technology, including the internet. Come on Google, we expected better from you!

  4. “It would be disheartening if Google classified those surfing categories as male.”
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it is extremely likely that these classifications are based completely off of data mining techniques. Meaning that they are generated by a set of “training” users surfing data whose gender they know, and associating similar surfing data with a high degree of probability to a gender based on the “training” data. So, it seems a little ridiculous to blame Google as if they had a person sit down and hard-code users into gender stereotypes.

  5. I am in Finance and Google thinks I am female, 25-34, which is correct. However that may be because I have recently been reading a ton of pregnancy related material.

  6. Renee DiResta

    I’m a junior VC w/a tech & quant finance background and I was classified the same way you were (M, 35-40) despite an interest in shopping (bags & purses, specifically). ;-)

    Check your RapLeaf and Bluekai profiles – they’re an even more detailed interesting view into who companies think you are

  7. Only one female in the picture – “Im the lady in the orange dress”. *cough*

    Google has associated me with Autos & Vehicles only, not to say that I don’t occasionaly look for sports cars on Google, but far les than I search for development related stuff.

    No demographic, even though I use Google maps fairly often to calculate routes from my home address.

    I figured Google would have more on me.

  8. Michelle White

    Yep, Google thinks I am a man but I am a tech savvy female. I have a 5 year old son so over the last several years I have spent time on mommy blogs and parenting site. I guess by tech clicking outweighs my mommy clicking.

  9. Mallory Cloutier

    Google also thinks I’m a male that falls within the 35-44 age bracket, likely based on my searches around telecom and tech gadgets.

    It’s a bit disheartening that Google profiles on those topics – and potentially a giant mess! Thanks for the heads up on this.