I was writing an assessment for one of my classes and I wanted some silhouette figures. To have balance I wanted silhouettes of some men and some women. I searched Google images for some male silhouettes first.
You probably won’t be struck by anything. I wasn’t. I used the guy at the start of the second row because I didn’t want a man in a suit. That’s the thing to notice really. How many of these men are businessmen. We might also note the body language. Confident, and assertive.
So then I did my next search.
You might notice a bit of a difference. The main difference of course is that there aren’t many businesswomen. In fact most of the women seem to be either nude, being sexy, or dancing.
I also thought it was interesting what was suggested as related searches. There are some obvious similarities (face, walking, standing, head), and some notable differences. “Silhouette man with gun” and “silhouette man smoking” versus “silhouette woman dancing” and “silhouette woman fashion”.
Does this tell us everything we need to know about western perceptions of men and women? If so, I think it’s pretty depressing for both genders. Men wear suits. They are business men. They smoke. They have guns. Women are sexual, they dance, they wear nice clothes (except when they’re being sexy and nude).
All of which made me wonder about other searches. How about the search “stock image boy” and “stock image girl”?
Ok, so once we get through the men actually dealing with stock we have pictures of boys running, playing football, riding bikes all that stuff. Notice the age of the boys. How about girls?
None of these “girls” look like girls, and I don’t see much running or biking going on.
I watched a presentation by Google about how their image search works. It was dull, but informative. Apparently people scroll through images and go a lot further into their search results than they do with a regular search. The images at the top of the page are a selection of images that have become popular because of click through traffic.
Various reports on internet usage by gender report that men and women use the internet for different things. Looking at these images I think we can conclude that men use Google image more than women, and that they like to see images that reflect a reality in which men are businessmen, boys play outside, girls are hot, and women rehearse dance moves in the nude a lot.