Google Doodles are oodles of fun. But according to rew research, they're also generally oodles of straight, white men.
Girl activist group Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistence, Knowledge (SPARK) released a report on Thursday that outlined the clear under-representation of women and minorities among those honored with a Google Doodle, which grace the site's homepage and are seen by billions of people each month all over the world.
Here's what Spark researchers found:
After collecting information about featured individuals' race, gender and geographic location, as well as in which parts of the world the Doodle appeared and what the person achieved in his or her lifetime, SPARK crunched some the numbers on Doodles published from 2010 to 2013.
In this time period, 445 total individuals were celebrated in Google Doodles on its various Google homepages. Only 77 Doodles celebrated women (including only 19 women of color) while an overwhelming 357 of the celebrated people were men, 275 of whom were white.
As one of the highest-trafficking sites in the world, Google should be doing better, according to Dana Edell, executive director of SPARK.
"Google is the information center of the world, and it's presenting a skewed and imbalanced vision of who creates knowledge," Edell said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "It's telling girls and boys that the people who have made contributions to our world are white men."
While they designed to be playful and fun, the Doodles can drive the news cycle and help jumpstart online conversations. By leaving women and minorities out of the Doodles, Google is robbing them of this valuable opportunity. Not to mention the that it creates a skewed picture of who "really matters" in fields like science, technology and the arts.
As SPARK activist Celeste explains:
"Google Doodles may seem lighthearted, especially when they’re accompanied by quirky games and animation, but the reality is that these doodles have emerged as a new manifestation of who we value as a society — a sign of who 'matters.' Just like statues, stamps, and national holidays, you know that if someone is featured on Google’s homepage, they’ve done something important."
SPARK is hoping its report will serve as a call to action for Google, which has billed its Doodles as a way to celebrate "the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists," irrespective of gender or race.
"Women have historically been underrepresented in almost all fields: science, school curricula, business, politics — and, sadly, doodles," Doodle Team Lead Ryan Germick acknoledged to the Wall Street Journal.
But he also said the company has already taken steps to attempt to fix the imbalance. Germick claimed that so far the Doodles of 2014 have drastically leveled the Doodle gender gap. "This year we've done Doodles for as many women as men, a big shift from figures below 20% in past years," Germick said.
In an effort to make sure Google continues the trend, SPARK has launched a digital media campaign including a change.org petition, a Tumblr page featuring a list of women who should be Doodled and the hashtag #DoodleUs.