This campaign needs your help to correct the gender bias in online sports stats
According to Correct the Internet, search engines are giving us incorrect answers to sporting stats, often favouring men. DDB NZ shows what we can do to fix things.
- 31 January 2023
- Liz Gorny
A new ad from DDB Group Aotearoa NZ starts with a simple question. “Who has scored the most goals in international football?” While it should warrant a simple answer, Correct the Internet says that a quick internet search will tell you Cristiano Ronaldo scored the most international goals at 118, when in fact it was Christine Sinclair with 190. According to the release, the internet is filled with similar inconsistencies. At the time of publishing, these included answering Bryan Habana and Jonah Lomu for most tries in rugby world cups, when it’s actually Portia Woodman, also overlooking Lydia Ko for most goals for USA, and many more besides.
It’s this bias that Correct the Internet – a new ad, campaign and online tool – is rallying against, ultimately aiming to overhaul the algorithm and correct as many gender-based inaccuracies as possible. It’s even created an online tool that the public can use to notify search engines of their incorrect results whenever they spot one online. While the process of logging and fixing these inaccuracies is relatively simple, the feedback function can be harder to find, particularly at larger search engines. Correct the Internet reframes this small action – logging an edit online – as a larger wave of collective action to empower people to get involved.
“Because the internet has learnt our bias many of its search engine results are inconsistent, often favouring men, and change depending on who is searching,” says Correct The Internet founding partner and former New Zealand Football Fern, Rebecca Sowden. Maher Nasser, director of the Outreach Division of the UN’s Department of Global Communications adds: “With growing reliance on internet search engines to find information, algorithms assume that human biases, conscious and unconscious, are the natural order of things and elevate results that conform with that. Gender equality starts with recognising the biases and challenges faced by women and girls and campaigns like Correct The Internet are a great way to unmask how the same biases have entered the virtual world.”
The Correct The Internet ad shows how virtual bias can have a real-world impact. DDB NZ sets the film in a football pitch, filling the stands, somewhat eerily, with lookalikes ofAlexa (Amazon's AI device). Though the spot does a good job of illustrating how a young person trying to learn about football online, can be met with discouragement.
On the landscape the campaign responds to, Rebecca states: “Many of the world’s leading athletes are women. Many of the world’s sporting records are held by women. But when people search online for factual sporting information about athletes, the results favour the sportsmen, even when the sportswomen have greater statistics.”
Correct The Internet comes from an international group of people seeking to highlight search engine inaccuracies and make sportswomen more visible. Supporters include Football for the Goals, Women in Sport Aotearoa, Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa (WISPA), English rugby’s Red Roses’ player, Shaunagh Brown, and Football Fern Meikayla Moore.
DDB Group Aotearoa NZ: Correct The Internet (Copyright © DDB Group Aotearoa NZ, 2023)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.