An Open Letter to Google Doodles

To Google leadership and the Google Doodle team,

As a woman in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career, I have great respect for technological innovation and for the work Google does in the world. That is why it is so disappointing to me that you have not taken the opportunity to use your world stage to highlight women’s contributions to creativity and innovation. Women, and other minority groups, are underrepresented in these fields and this is an issue I would expect you to be committed to fighting and changing. I would certainly expect Google to be aware of this underrepresentation and of the large body of research into why this problem persists and how it can be addressed.

Google Doodles highlight role models in science, technology, the arts, and the humanities, but a quick look will show you that the people you have chosen to honor do not represent the full spectrum of humanity. In particular, you have work to do to make Google Doodles equitable in their representation of women and people of color. As I am sure you must be aware, part of the large body of research to which I have referred focuses on the lack of role models for women and minorities interested in pursuing STEM careers. It is unfathomable to me that Google Doodles have not taken the opportunity to share a diverse set of role models with the diverse group of children it hopes to someday employ.

After pursuing a PhD in astrophysics from Cornell University, I now work in STEM education, because I am committed to increasing opportunities for underrepresented groups in these fields. I work with many amazing, talented women and men who are equally committed to equity and who take action to back up these principles. We are aware of and contributing to the research and innovation that you need to think about if you want to address these concerns. If you would be willing to take the chance to listen to us and to allow us to share our expertise on this critical problem facing our world, we could make a huge difference together.

For years, I have watched Google Doodles contribute to the viewpoint that it is men who create the world we live in and innovate to improve it. I continued to hope that Google would recognize and address this obvious bias. Because you have not spoken up for the women in STEM, creativity, innovation, the arts, and the humanities, I am speaking up for us.

– Ann Martin, PhD
Gmail: amartin10
Twitter: @Annie314159

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18 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Google Doodles

  1. Hm interesting, I didn’t even notice until now. I just had a look at the Google doodles from the past year, and out of the few hundred they created for international Google pages, only around 10 featured women (including International Women’s Day etc). Almost all of them are artists of some sort, the only scientist I could spot was Marie Curie. Shame, I’m sure just by, erm, googling female scientists, they could easily come up with some inspiring doodles. Would be nice to see some more!

  2. Glad to see someone is raising this issue! This occurred to me today when I noticed the doodle was of a man as usual and then I came across your blog. Have you received any sort of response from Google about this?

    • Thanks for stopping by, Ilana! No, I haven’t heard from Google at all since I started writing back in 2011.

      In the U.S., at least, today’s Google Doodle honors a woman (I just added a new post about her!). They’ve been doing a better job this year of including female Doodles, but in this case “better” means “hovering below 25%,” which isn’t quite good enough to me!

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