Gender divide

What Google Search Reveals about Gender Divide

Did you know that Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day which translates to over 40,000 search queries every second on average! Analysing what people search for can thus reveal a lot about how society thinks and how things are changing.

According to Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, who worked at Google as a data scientist, and is the author of the book Everybody Lies, “In the pre-digital age, people hid their embarrassing thoughts from other people. In the digital age, they still hide them from other people, but not from the internet and in particular sites such as Google and PornHub, which protect their anonymity.” Employing big data research tools “allows us to finally see what people really want and really do, not what they say they want and say they do.”

That brings me to an interesting bite-sized story shared by Google – Women’s untold stories. Google searches reveal three areas where women face equality gaps across safety, financial freedoms and expectations of their bodies.

India, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines had the highest concentration of searches related to women’s public safety in 2020 (for example, “missing woman,” “taser for women” and “pepper spray for women”). What does that tell us about safety for women in these societies?

Women just don’t have the same freedom of safety as men. It’s telling that in India, searches for “self-defence for women” is 30X higher than “self-defence for men”!

This study by Google reveals how society has forgotten about women – about their needs. Many products are designed for the average man. Women must specify their gender to find products that are safe for them. Globally searches for “women’s helmet” are 2X that of “men’s helmet”.

In a study, Vovlo found that women were more likely to get injured in car crashes as seat belts are designed for male crash test dummies. This prompted them to start testing dummies of all sizes.

Brands need to start focusing on the entire market, including women’s needs – only then everyone wins.

Another aspect that emerges is that disproportionate expectations are placed on women regarding their bodies, be it in terms of being attractive or having children. The search for “weight loss app for women” has grown 130% in India.

So what needs to happen for our world to become a more equal society? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

1 thought on “What Google Search Reveals about Gender Divide”

  1. Shalini Shrivastav

    Very interesting read, Sonali. Google is indeed a platform that is used universally and cuts across all social and geographic divides. So, its search patterns are likely to reveal interesting, less obvious facts about societal trends. It is important for companies and brands and also governments (who are the providers of the service of ‘safety’), to read these trends, first accept the unevenness thrown up by them, and then champion inclusive design ideas and products, programs and services to build a more equal world!

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