Plastic Mobile Reimagines Google's Image Search for International Women's Day

March 8, 2018

 

Photo © Filip Mroz, Plastic Mobile

 

It’s well documented that the technology industry is one of the holdouts when it comes to better gender representation in the workforce. A 2017 ISACA study indicates women hold only one in four technology jobs, and females make up just 21 per cent of all tech executives.

 

Changing perception is part of the solution—there are Girls Who Code camps and STEM/STEAM initiatives designed to reach female students before they choose their careers. But Plastic Mobile, a software company in Toronto, recently noticed just how pervasive perceptions could be when doing something as simple as using Google’s image search. Type in “computer engineer” and not one of the top hits shows a woman working in the profession.

 

“All our teams are very cognizant of having proper representation of race, age and gender throughout the agency,” says Melody Adhami, chief creative officer and president of Plastic Mobile. “It was a late night of wrapping up the final version of a presentation when, with every Google image search, it started to become more and more clear that the majority of computer engineer stock photos were male-centric.”

 

So the agency decided to shoot some new stock imagery in time for International Women’s Day, using its own staff as models. "As cheesy as stock photos are, just by looking at them, we knew we had everything we needed in our own space to recreate these images," Adhami says.

 

 

The current Google image search results for "computer engineer" (top), and Plastic Mobile's mockup (below)

 

She notes the team was spurred on by stories they’ve heard from clients. “Working in tech, there are countless conversations that we have had with female engineers throughout the years that speak volumes,” says Adhami. “We’ve had women mention getting comments about how they don’t fit the ‘mould’ of a developer, or look like someone that could be a developer.”

 

“[They’ve been] asked questions that one person would not typically find appropriate to ask another,” Adhami continues. “[Such as] how they landed on wanting to become a developer because it seems like quite a difficult career choice. As harmless as these questions may seem in the moment, they set a tone. They offer the message that women aren’t as good as their male counterparts. That they can’t be accepted for their brilliant minds without being questioned about it first.”

 

Plastic Mobile has submitted the images to stock websites, and is running some online ads using the photos. Adhami says the team hopes the photos will provide a small dose of inspiration to “those late-night presentation creators [so we can] begin making that ripple of change.”

 

See more images below.

 

Photo © Filip Mroz, Plastic Mobile

 

Photo © Filip Mroz, Plastic Mobile

 

Photo © Filip Mroz, Plastic Mobile

 

Photo © Filip Mroz, Plastic Mobile

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