In its expansive Google: Doodle Us study, female advocacy group SPARK revealed only 77 women were represented in the 445 Google Doodles featured on the site’s various country-specific homepages between 2010 and 2013.
Analyzing the individuals honored by Google logos appearing on the site’s global and regional homepages, as well as homepages for individual countries, the study concentrated on actual people, excluding any Doodles highlighting fictional characters or individuals connected to a holiday or festival.
According to SPARK:
Out of the 445 total Doodles Google created to honor people between the years of 2010 and 2013, a full 74 percent honored white people. Only 17 percent honored women of any race. And even more abysmal 4.3 percent honored women of color.
In response to the study, Google Doodle team lead Ryan Germick acknowledged Google’s poor showing when it comes to spotlighting women on its homepage.
“Women have been underrepresented in history in almost all fields: science, school, curricula, business, politics – and, sadly, doodles – despite incredible contributions both directly and behind the scenes,” said Germick in an email, “We’ve been working to fix the imbalance in our doodles – this year we’re hoping to have women and men equally represented.”
Germick pointed out that his team has created as many Doodles for women as men since the start of 2014. So far this year, the US homepage has featured logos for Zora Neale Hurston, Dian Fossey and Harriet Tubman.
The underwhelming representation of women in tech is not exclusive to Google’s homepage. A Wall Street Journal report on SPARK’s study noted Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s calling attention to the issue in her book Lean In.
HBO was also under fire just this week when AdAge’s Simon Dumenco’s called out the cable network for its trailer promoting the new HBO show Silicon Valley, “See the Trailer for HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’: Apparently There Are No Women in Tech (Except for Go-Go Dancers.”
In an email to Marketing Land, a Google spokesperson outlined Google’s efforts to support women. Listing initiatives like Google’s Women Techmakers interview series, the $1.2 million grant Google endowed to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and the launching of the WeTech (Women Enhancing Technology) Fund, the Google spokesperson claimed the company is doing its part to raise the visibility of women, not only in the tech industry, but on a global level.
“We’re working with partners in education to add hands-on STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum to schools and to encourage more girls and underrepresented minority youth to get excited about professions in technology,” said the Google spokesperson.
Beyond evaluating the number of women represented by Google Doodles, the SPARK study also tracked Google Doodle honorees by region and found an overwhelming majority were European.
“When we look at whose stories are told in public spaces – from statues in public parks to the Google home page – it tells us who is important in the world,” said SPARK executive director Dana Edell as quoted in the Wall Street Journal report.
SPARK is asking people to raise awareness by sharing its research on social media pages using the hashtag #DoodleUs or signing its “Give Us Doodles Like Us” petition on Change.org.