A research paper authored by Dr Linda Abbas of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Middle East University, titled ‘Google autocomplete search algorithms and the Arabs’ perspectives on gender: A case study of Google Egypt.’, was published by the Scopus-covered GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies. The researcher investigated the effect of Google’s autocomplete algorithms on cementing gender roles as perceived in the Arab world.
The researcher found that autocomplete algorithms may promote gender roles assigned to men and women in the Arab world by continuing to suggest conceptions commonly associated with subject-related keywords entered by the search engine’s users.
The research showed that the autocomplete feature links between women and their assigned stereotypes such as jealousy, vulnerability, obsession with looks and shopping, submission and lack of intelligence compared to men. The same applied to men as the autocomplete feature promoted the stereotypes surrounding men such as deceit, infidelity, inability to express feelings and their superiority over women. The researcher highlighted that these generalisations are often misleading and are usually based on exaggerations.
The researcher urged internet users to completely abandon such stereotypes and roles and refrain from acting upon them when dealing with the opposite gender.
The researcher concluded that technology may play a role in promoting stereotypes and social norms, and recommended the developers of search engines to invest greater efforts into developing autocomplete algorithms that are not biased to any religion, gender, race or anything of the like.