Last week, a Seattle Times investigation revealed that LinkedIn’s search function seems to have a pretty pronounced gender bias. It turns out, when you search for a woman’s name on LinkedIn, the site has a pesky habit of asking whether you’re actually looking for a similarly spelled man’s name instead.
For example, on a search for “Stephanie Williams,” LinkedIn helpfully asks if you meant to look up “Stephan Williams” instead — even though, according to the Seattle Times, there are approximately 2,500 profile results for the name “Stephanie Williams.” A similar pattern holds for at least a dozen common American women’s names. Type in “Andrea” — are you sure you didn’t mean Andrew? And “Michaela” — what about Michael? “Danielle” — Daniel, right?
Curiously, searches for the 100 most-common U.S. male names did not result in any suggestions for their female counterparts.
LinkedIn maintains that its algorithm doesn’t have a gender bias, explaining that the suggested male names are simply based on the site’s most-common searches. But today the BBC reports that LinkedIn has updated its search function to avoid proposing any alternative names, which sounds like a good plan!