CITEC-Gender-Talk "Competent Men and Warm Women"

Public Event
18 September 2017
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CITEC-Gender-Talk "Competent Men and Warm Women: On the Detection and Origin of Gender Stereotyped Image Search Results", Prof. Jahna Otterbacher, Open University Cyprus, Guest Professor on Gender and Technology

The talk "Competent Men and Warm Women: On the Detection and Origin of Gender Stereotyped Image Search Results" will be held at 14 h in room 1.204 of the CITEC building. Professor Jahna Otterbacher, Open University Cyprus will speak on the topic of the problem of detecting social biases in image search results. She developed a novel method for automatically examining the content and strength of gender stereotypes in image results, which is inspired by the trait adjective checklist method. In experiments with Microsoft Bing, she found that photos of women are more often retrieved for searches on warm character traits (e.g., “emotional”), whereas agentic traits (e.g., “rational”) typically result in more images of men.

In the second part of the talk, Prof. Otterbacher address questions surrounding the origin of social biases in search algorithms. She will argue that the quality of image metadata is a source of bias, as algorithms are typically trained on “gold standard,” human-produced metadata. Specifically, in an experiment testing a commonly used crowdsourcing task for metadata generation, Otterbacher will provide evidence that people’s descriptions of men and women depicted in similar contexts differ in systematic ways that are predictable by theory. In conclusion, Prof. Otterbacher shall argue that while the reproduction of social stereotypes in search algorithms is likely inevitable, there are ways to effectively raise users’ awareness of biases in results.