2014 Wrap-up: A New Chapter for Google Doodles

Now that 2014 is (well!) behind us, I’ve had a chance to look back on the year. And I must say, Google was able to deliver on the early promise of 2014, when the first 3 Doodles of the year all honored women (Zora Neale Hurston, Dian Fossey, and Harriet Tubman). I hope that the Doodles team is able to continue this effort to be more mindful and conscious in their approach to selecting honorees.

Click below the fold, and let’s take a look at the gender breakdown of Doodles throughout 2014, isolating Doodles shown in the US (where I live) and also considering all the Doodles shown around the world.

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Speaking Up-date: 2014 So Far, and Google’s Renewed Efforts

Recently, Google has been getting (and seeking) a lot of press and attention, both for their dismal gender track record and for their new-found efforts to make changes. The New York Times covered Google’s new initiatives to combat bias within the company. Google went so far as to write and contribute a piece to Scientific American about the genesis of their recent changes. They say that they started addressing Doodles over a year ago: “Over the past few years, we discovered some pretty ugly news about our beloved Google Doodles . . . Gender equality champions did the math and called us out.”

As part of these efforts, Google also posted this video from their venture capital branch, Google Venture, which shows an hour-long lecture from Dr. Brian Welle of Google’s People Analytics group:

This video is chock-full of tremendous empirical research, including discussions of stereotype threat and the implicit biases that lead to women’s accomplishments being judged differently than men’s. I wish every single person on the planet, and especially anyone who doesn’t think women’s achievements are undervalued, could see this video and benefit from the knowledge it contains.

And at the 31:40 mark, this video is also full of something that I have been waiting so long to hear or see. The speaker shows my findings (from my 2013 wrap-up post) identifying the dismal gender record in Doodles, and points out that this was a wake up call. I’m thrilled to hear someone affiliated with Google acknowledge that my analysis got through to them. I want to be clear: never before has anyone from Google reached out to me, made contact with me, or mentioned Speaking Up For Us in the media. (To answer the obvious question: yes, I have attempted many times to make contact with various representatives, through various venues.)

Of course, what the video is not full of is any clue that links that information to me – no mention of my name, of my project, of the blog, or of the fact that I made those images shown in the slideshow, and Google did not. I’m also not cited in the Google Ventures page that lists “all” references from the video. “Somebody” tracked these stats “and it was a bit of an embarrassment.” As a result, I’m disappointed and discouraged. (After all, my name and contact information are publicly available here – and they could always have Googled me!)

In my end-of-year 2013 wrap up, I wrote:

“I’m of several minds here: I’m genuinely pleased with the improvement, but well aware that it takes conscious and long-term effort for projects like the Doodles to make lasting change when it comes to gender bias. And I’m also well aware that the strides made in 2013 still fall far short of 50% gender parity, and that 12 years of Doodles was too long to wait to make a commitment to equity. This is a step in the right direction, but the work is not done.”

I remain of several minds, because while I am glad to see Google making strides, I think it’s also important for them to acknowledge the help that they got. I don’t think it’s a good sign that they are proclaiming their own, new dedication to parity and equity . . . while using the words, work, and images created by a woman without attribution. Of course, this concern of mine is not about this single presentation – I don’t think it was malicious and I am sure I have made the same mistake in presentations in the past– but overall, about the fact that my work hasn’t been credited by them in this or any other venue. I didn’t do this work for a thank you, but a thank you would have been so easy to send.

In their video above, a representative of Google says that “somebody” tracked the statistics they weren’t tracking. I’m not “somebody,” I’m Ann Martin – a woman working in a STEM field whose contribution to Google’s current path has not been given credit (and whose image, specifically, was not given credit). Credit is not as important to me as the real change, but I think it’s important as a feminist and a worker to say: I am here. I worked. My work mattered. It took time and energy, from which Google benefited. Dr. Welle’s words are powerful: “If we didn’t have that data point, we never would have tried to do it.”

Since I wrote the words above, I believe Google has continued to show true, lasting dedication to making some changes. I want to take this moment to acknowledge that. The statistics for 2014, tracked through October 1st, show significant increases in the number of women represented in Doodles. However, the team at SPARKSummit, and Google themselves, point out that gender is only one dimension of diversity, and people of color are still sorely underrepresented. To help address this, Doodles this year have honored Althea Gibson, Nelson Mandela, Percy Julian, Dorothy Height, Harriet Tubman, and Zora Neale Hurston in the U.S. – and others around the world.

First, let’s take a look at the Doodles shown in the U.S., compared with previous years.

U.S. Doodles - click to see full size.

U.S. Doodles – click to see full size.

To date, an incredible two-thirds of 2014 Doodles have celebrated women. That’s 10 women represented for the 5 men who have been honored this year. Of course, the years of male-focused Doodles mean Google has even more catching up to do. Since 2001, Google users in the U.S. have been presented with 120 Doodles celebrating men’s achievements, and only 34 celebrating women. The 10 women celebrated this year, indeed, make up a significant fraction of all of the women Doodle has ever thought to include.

A similar story is told by a chart showing related data, but for all the Doodles shown anywhere in the world.

Worldwide Doodles - click to see full size.

Worldwide Doodles – click to see full size.

When considering all Doodles shown around the world this year, men are still outpacing women – 54% vs. 46% representation. In terms of counts of actual Doodles, worldwide, Google has honored 44 men this year and 38 women. Since 2001, counting every single Doodle that was ever posted to celebrate an individual creator or innovator, Google has found 482 worthy men but only 119 worthy women (19.8%).

As the profiles of historically significant women here have demonstrated for the last 3 years, these numbers aren’t due to a lack of accomplished women. And as Dr. Brian Welle explains in his talk, the solutions are not easy, but they are simple. Addressing these widespread biases demands nothing more than attention and effort, always asking, “Am I being fair? Am I going out of my way to be different from the status quo?” As my dear friend and colleague Sabrina Stierwalt wrote on this very blog in 2012: “Think about how you are deciding whom to honor with your Doodles. If the answer is, ‘we just think of the first people who come to mind,’ and you haven’t managed to come up with any women, then you’re thinking about it wrong.”

Gender Distribution in Google Doodles: 2013 Year in Review

2013 came to an end a little over a month ago, but in that time, the Google team has kept me plenty busy with a series of Doodles honoring women. And that’s an interesting start to a new year, following one in which Google really improved their record on gender representation — but they still have a lot to do. I’m of several minds here: I’m genuinely pleased with the improvement, but well aware that it takes conscious and long-term effort for projects like the Doodles to make lasting change when it comes to gender bias. And I’m also well aware that the strides made in 2013 still fall far short of 50% gender parity, and that 12 years of Doodles was too long to wait to make a commitment to equity. This is a step in the right direction, but the work is not done.

Let’s look at how Doodles dealt with their dismal gender record in 2013, both 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. There is one significant update: this year, there were some Doodles that were shown in most countries except in the United States. Google’s “Finder” service has recently started categorizing some such Doodles as “Global,” adding a complication to my stats — in the past, only Doodles that were truly shown on every Google homepage were listed that way. I’ve tried to carefully keep track, but it’s possible I’ve made a mistake or two! Contact me if you are interested in the dataset that I use to build this site’s gender statistics.)

Click below the fold for the 2013 year in review.

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July 15th: Rembrandt & Dorothy Fields

Earlier this week, Google posted a Doodle to celebrate the birthday of Dutch artist Rembrandt. This Doodle, coming about halfway through the year, seems like a good time to check in on some stats. Thus far in 2013, worldwide, 91 Doodles have been posted celebrating the birthday of an individual. Of these, 15, or 16%, have honored women. Just within the United States, there have been 18 Doodles, with 4 (22%) recognizing women.

What this means: Doodles are on track to be more representative of women’s contributions in 2013, but only slightly so. There’s still a long way to go!

Now, on to our regular contribution: a look at a Doodle-Worthy Woman who could have been honored on this day, film and Broadway songwriter Dorothy Fields.

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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.

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December 10th: Ada Lovelace!

Today, December 10th, Google Doodles celebrates the birthday of British mathematician and computer scientist Lady Ada Lovelace, born in 1815. She is the fifth woman honored with a Google Doodle in the United States in 2012 — making this the most gender-diverse year in the history of the Doodles. Still, that diversity is sorely lacking: at this point, late in 2012, women have made up only 19%  of the Doodles shown in this country. The brilliant Lady Ada Lovelace is extremely deserving of this honor, and perhaps might inspire the Doodles team to make a stronger commitment to including women in this series.

The Google Doodle celebrating the 197th birthday of Ada Lovelace on December 10th, 2012.

The Google Doodle celebrating the 197th birthday of Ada Lovelace on December 10th, 2012.

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September 13th: Clara Schumann!

If 3 is a pattern, and 4 is a trend, then I continue to be impressed with the recent commitment of Google Doodles to broadening gender representation and diversity in their series of special logos. Today’s Doodle honors concert pianist and composer Clara Schumann, born on September 13th in 1819.

Schumann is the 4th woman honored with a Google Doodle in the United States this year (all between July 24 and today), so in this country and this year, women make up about 20% of the Doodle honorees. That’s the largest portion of the total that women have ever held in any year; additionally, this ties 2012 with 2011 for the year in which the most Doodles honored women (4 women were honored in 2011, and 24 men, so women made up only 14% in that year). Only time will tell whether Doodles will keep up the good work and improve these statistics even more.

Clara Schumann’s Google Doodle, posted September 13th, 2012.

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