Does Google Not Understand Women Or Just Geek Women?

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Apparently, Google thinks we’re men. Their ads preferences page was recently brought to my attention. It breaks down your internet searches by categories and then infers your age and gender based on what you’ve looked at. And according to them, all of us here at The Mary Sue are 25-34 year old men. At first it seemed like perhaps “male” was just the default for those who didn’t have their google internet history turned on and as ridiculous as that would be, all Susana (results above), Jamie and myself all had our history set to on, which means these assumptions where made on our internet usage. It makes me consider what DC Comics Demon Knights writer Paul Cornell tweeted earlier, “Do you think that Google may not have considered the tastes of geek girls?” 

Google, we’re not going to get mad at the seemingly sexist algorithms in use, we’re just going to tell you this is something you need to fix. Also, Susana does not want you to try and sell her men’s pants because she searches for electronics online. Below are my results. Even with something stereotypically female in my list, “shopping – apparel – footwear,” I am still thought to be a man because of my love for entertainment? I’m just not sure how this makes sense for us, or you, Google.

Google is trying to make the most money possible by targeting ads to users based on their assumed preferences but, as demonstrated by Susana’s pants debacle, A does not always equal B. Below are Jamie’s results. She is a tech-savvy, well-dressed, business man who likes to go to the movies according to Google.

The important thing to note is you can remove or edit the categories or demographics. And we’d suggest you most certainly change the age and gender if it’s incorrect. Hopefully that will help Google create more accurate results in the future, for your own benefit, if nothing else. EDIT: It appears you can only remove the gender, not change it. And when you click on the little question mark next to male it says, “Based on the websites you’ve visited, we think you’re interested in topics that mostly interest men.” Grr. EDIT #2: Apparently you CAN change the gender. You must first hit remove on the old one and then go back to add category – demographics – male or female.

I’ve spoken to a few friends who have similar searches and results but we’d be interested to hear what your own say considering our readership. Click here to check your ads preferences and also let us know if your google history was turned on or off before you checked.

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Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."