Algorithmic Bias? An Empirical Study into Apparent Gender-Based Discrimination in the Display of STEM Career Ads
40 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2016 Last revised: 5 Sep 2021
Date Written: March 9, 2018
We explore data from a field test of how an algorithm delivered ads promoting job opportunities in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. This ad was explicitly intended to be gender-neutral in its delivery. Empirically, however, fewer women saw the ad than men. This happened because younger women are a prized demographic and are more expensive to show ads to. An algorithm which simply optimizes cost-effectiveness in ad delivery will deliver ads that were intended to be gender-neutral in an apparently discriminatory way, due to crowding out. We show that this empirical regularity extends to other major digital platforms.
Keywords: Online Advertising, Algorithmic Bias, Social Media
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