This ten-year-old image, which corresponds to an Onion article about women in positions of corporate power, is the first female face Google pulls up in an image search for “CEO.”
Down below ten rows of variations on Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and stock images of both male CEOs and paper signs that say “CEO,” Barbie appears, pink briefcase in hand. Several more all-male rows later, the first flesh-and-blood human woman is Debbie Cavalier — CEO and vice president of online learning and continuing education at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
“The world needs more women CEOs,” Ms. Cavalier told the Cut, “there is no doubt about that.”
Indeed, the disparity is bleak: “In Google Images’ results for CEO only 11 percent of the results returned were women despite the fact that 27 percent of CEOs in the U.S. are female,” writes Taylor Lorenz at Business Insider.
A recent study out of the University of Washington, titled “Unequal Representation and Gender Stereotypes in Image Search Results for Occupations,” “found evidence of stereotype exaggeration and under-representation of women when comparing actual employment data to image search results,” based on a study of 45 different occupations.
But Ms. Cavalier isn’t down on Barbie, however stereotyped the doll may be. “I’m a huge fan of Barbie and think Mattel has done a good job providing myriad positive ‘role-model Barbies’ that convey women can do and be anything,” she said. As long as she’s “wearing CEO clothes” and not “bathing suits by the Barbie Dream House pool.”