About Speaking Up & Google Doodles

Google Doodles are the periodic special logos that replace the typical Google logo for a day. While some Google Doodles recognize holidays and cultural celebrations, a large number of them honor the birthdays of famed creators and innovators, including scientists, authors, inventors, entertainers, and artists. This second category is what the Speaking Up project is all about, because those individuals selected for recognition in a Doodle are overwhelmingly male. The statistics change due to new Doodles being published regularly, so refer to the rest of the Speaking Up blog to find the latest information. As of June 2012, this is the latest gender distribution for Doodles shown in the U.S. and this is the latest gender distribution for Doodles shown anywhere around the globe.

Long story short, about 9% of the Doodles shown in the U.S. and about 12.5% of the Doodles shown around the entire world honor women (from 2008 to June 2012). This misrepresentation of the gender diversity among actual creators and innovators de-values women’s contributions, and loses Google the opportunity to present diverse role models to its users.

I started Speaking Up in November 2011, with an Open Letter to the Doodles Team in the hope of getting Google to notice and address this issue. Since then, I’ve tracked the statistics of the Google Doodles gender distribution, and I regularly highlight Doodle-worthy women. Each time a new Doodle is posted in honor of a male creator or innovator, I use the opportunity to learn and write about a woman who has left her mark on the world. In June 2012, I ran a special series of posts called The Midpoint Series, referring to the fact that 50% of the year had passed without Google doing anything to move towards 50% representation of women’s accomplishments in Google Doodles. In fact, between January 2012 and June 2012, Google had honored 16 men with Doodles on their U.S. homepage, and zero women.

While it’s certainly true that history has its own bias, I contend that Google has an opportunity and a responsibility to do better, and they certainly have selected male honorees in fields that are more gender diverse, including fine artists and the authors of children’s books.  And besides, they haven’t come anywhere near exhausting (or even exploring) the supply of prominent women: no Doodles have been posted to honor Ella Fitzgerald, Julia Child, Ada Lovelace, Georgia O’Keeffe, Harriet Tubman, Emily Dickinson, Chien-Shiung Wu, Dian Fossey . . . The list isn’t literally endless, but it’s certainly larger than the 7 women who have ever been honored with a Doodle in the United States. (Editor’s note: This was originally published on June 27, 2012; as of January 2013, Ada Lovelace and Julia Child have both been honored with Doodles; as of February 2014, Dian Fossey and Harriet Tubman have been added to that list!.)

Please take a look at all that Speaking Up has to offer, help us spread the word, and check back here every time you see a new Doodle!

4 thoughts on “About Speaking Up & Google Doodles

  1. Pingback: July 14th: Gustav Klimt & Peggy Parish | Speaking Up

  2. I think this is an interesting idea and a neat way to learn about influential women in history. I noticed that you haven’t updated this post to remove Ada Lovelace and Julia Child from the list, which is misleading to newcomers. Both had Doodles within the last year. I also noticed that you didn’t say anything about the MLK, Jr. Doodle. I would probably argue that Mr. King’s accomplishments should stand alone, but then I think that he shouldn’t be counted as a “male” Doodle at the end of the year if this is your belief too. If you do plan to count him, then I think it’d be nice to mention the Doodle.

  3. Hi, Megan — thank you for bringing this to my attention; I’ve made a note that makes it clear Ada Lovelace and Julia Child have (finally!) been included.

    As for MLK Jr. Day, it’s a special case. Here’s my thinking on it: Google posts a Doodle every single year on MLK Jr. Day, so I’ve considered it an annual recognition of the federal holiday, the man himself, and his incredibly historical significance. I don’t put it in the same category as their series of Doodles that honor individuals on the anniversary of their birth. Plus, there are several such gendered holidays in a year, but they skew male (Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day are sometimes honored, but so are St. Patrick’s Day, Father’s Day, MLK Jr. day, etc.), so I’ve chosen to stick just to individual honorees who are recognized on their birthdays. For those reasons, I don’t count those kinds of holidays, or MLK Jr. as an individual, in my gender tally. Whenever I do a major post on the statistics (like this one: https://speakingupforus.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/midpoint-series-united-states-google-doodles-as-of-june-24th-2012/) I try to make my counting method as clear as I can. There are definitely different ways this could be approached, though!

  4. Pingback: Are Google’s Doodles Combatting Sexism And Racism?

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