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NPR | 03.15.16

Can Computer Programs Be Racist And Sexist?

Sorelle Friedler

D&S Fellow Sorelle Friedler was interviewed for an NPR piece discussing algorithms and bias.

[Sandvig] says other studies show that women are more likely to be shown lower-paying jobs than men in online ads. Sorelle Friedler, a computer science professor at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, says women may reinforce this bias without realizing it.

“It might be that women are truly less likely to click on those ads and probably that’s because of the long history of women making less than men,” she says. “And so perhaps [women are] thinking, ‘Oh, that ad isn’t really for me. I’m not as likely to get that job.’ ”

And so the algorithm determines it should no longer show those ads to women, because they don’t click.

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