Gender Distribution in Google Doodles: 2012 Year in Review

Now that 2012 has come to an end, it’s an opportune time to take a look at Google Doodle honorees from this year, and years past, here in the U.S. and around the world.

(For more information on my methodology and approach to counting male and female individuals honored with a Doodle, check out this post from summer 2012. The only major update is that I’ve now gone all the way back to the year 2001, the first time that Google posted a special logo honoring a specific individual on their birthday; before, my dataset started in 2008, which was the first time such a logo honored a woman. You can also click here to download the current (12/31/2012) dataset as an Excel spreadsheet.)

Click below the fold to see what 2012 was like as far as gender distribution in Doodles.

First, let’s look at the gender distribution of all Doodles posted in 2012 — anywhere on the globe.

Gender distribution of all Doodles posted in 2012, anywhere in the world.

Gender distribution of all Doodles posted in 2012, anywhere in the world.

Is that what your world looks like? Mine certainly does not. This year, Google came up with a list of 102 male creators and innovators to honor, but only found 15 women worthy of the same recognition. That means only 12.8% of those recognized by Google this year were women. The situation looked slightly better in those Doodles displayed in the United States:

Gender distribution of the 2012 Google Doodles displayed within the United States.

Gender distribution of the 2012 Google Doodles displayed within the United States.

Here at home, 21 men were honored on their birthdays with a Doodle, and 5 women (19.2%). To be clear, that’s an improvement — but still dismal. And more than 6 months of the year went by before Google posted a single Doodle honoring a woman.

How do these numbers stack up to the gender distribution of Doodles in the past? As I mentioned above, I’ve fully fleshed out my dataset and it now goes all the way back to include the very first Doodles honoring an individual. In that context, women are getting a lot more attention from the Doodles team.

Global Google Doodle gender distribution from 2001 through the end of 2012. At the bottom of the chart, the totals for the globe and the U.S. are displayed for comparison.

Global Google Doodle gender distribution from 2001 through the end of 2012. At the bottom of the chart, the totals for the globe and the U.S. are displayed for comparison.

The chart above shows seven years of Doodles before the team included a single woman. Of course, there were many fewer Doodles back then, so those years make a smaller contribution to the overall total. From 2001 to 2012, global Google Doodles have honored 318 men and only 45 women (12.4%). As you can also see, 2011 was a slightly better year for gender equity than 2012, as the 15 women honored in 2012 correspond to 12.8% of the total and the 16 women honored in 2011 corresponded to 15.5%. There hasn’t been a single year in which women were honored at a 20% rate.

Here’s the same chart, showing only the Doodles displayed in the U.S. over the same time period:

Gender distribution for U.S. Doodles from 2001 through the end of 2012. At the bottom of the chart, the U.S. total is displayed for comparison.

Gender distribution for U.S. Doodles from 2001 through the end of 2012. At the bottom of the chart, the U.S. total is displayed for comparison.

From 2001 to 2012, U.S. Google Doodles have honored 95 men and 12 women (11.2%). 2012 was the best year so far, with women making up 19.2% of the 26 Doodles displayed here this year.

Just a reminder: women make up about 50% of the world’s population. Looking above, there hasn’t been a single year when the gender distribution of Doodles was anything other than ludicrous and insulting.

Speaking Up will be here throughout 2013, keeping track of Doodles and doing my part to encourage Google to address this severe gender bias. I’m working on a lot of fun ideas for series and posts to highlight even more women, too, so if you have ideas or would like to become a contributor, Tweet me @Annie314159.

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