A study by an Indian-American at Carnegie Mellon University shows that lesser number of women, as compared to men, are shown in online ads promising high-salary jobs.
"The tool that runs experiments with simulated user profiles established that the gender discrimination was real," said Anupam Datta, associate professor of computer science and of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
The study, published in the proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies, used the automated AdFisher tool developed by Datta to run 21 experiments evaluating Ad Settings, a web page Google created to give users some control over the ads delivered to them.
"We can't look inside the black box that makes the decisions, but AdFisher can find changes in preferences and changes in the behaviour of its virtual users that cause changes in the ads users receive," said Michael Carl Tschantz, researcher at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California.
To study the impact of gender, researchers created 1,000 simulated users - half designated male, half female - and had them visit 100 top employment sites.
"The male users were shown the high-paying job ads about 1,800 times, compared to female users who saw those ads about 300 times," said Amit Datta, an Indian-origin a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering.
By comparison, the ads most associated with female profiles were for a generic job posting service and an auto dealer.