Semcon / Re-search
Browser extension Semcon combats gender stereotypes in online search results
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Semcon, a product development company, developed a browser extension to help prevent gender bias in image search results. Re-Search kicks in when a user performs an image search for certain professions, performing a parallel search for images that feature people of the sex less well represented in that profession and displaying the results in parallel windows.
RESULTS / The extension was downloaded 1,500 times and that 300 suggestions for new professions to be added had been submitted. In the first two weeks of the campaign, traffic to Semcon’s website increased 400%. The company also says that employee engagement reached an all-time high in the wake of the campaign.
INSIGHTS / Semcon’s browser takes inspiration from the quote, attributed to children’s rights campaigner Marian Wright Edelman, that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. If image searches don’t show a diverse range of people performing jobs, then the imbalance within these professions is unlikely to change.
Semcon’s angle is that it needs more women in the male-dominated field of engineering because a more diverse workforce would improve its output. And by generating news stories about Re-Search, Semcon can push this message to any women in engineering looking for a job, and let them know that they would be valued at the company.