If You Google "Unprofessional Hairstyles for Work," These Are the Problematic Results

If You Google "Unprofessional Hairstyles for Work," These Are the Problematic Results

Microsoft's Chatbot isn't the only insentient technology being problematic: Try Googling "professional hairstyles for work" and then Googling "unprofessional hairstyles for work." Notice the difference between the two search results? Twitter user BonKamona did, spotting a racial divide between what Google deems professional and unprofessional. 

Source: Google

The people in a search for professional hairstyles are predominantly white. Conversely, people in searches for unprofessional are mostly black — though for some reason, Elizabeth Banks as The Hunger Games' Effie Trinket makes a surprise appearance.

Source: Google

Twitter user MalumDube pointed out the irony of a similar style worn by Rachel McAdams was somehow deemed "unprofessional" when worn by a black woman.

Other users made a salient point that, while the images do appear in an "unprofessional" search, the images are actually linked to articles and Pinterest boards, denouncing the biases that black women face when it comes to society's constructed idea of professionalism.

And some users pointed out that it might simply be how Google's algorithm worked, pulling keywords like "unprofessional" and associating it with "dreads" and "cornrows" — even if the article leaned toward positive.

While it's difficult to pinpoint how Google's proprietary algorithm works, the argument that the images are being used in a positive light is beside the point; the very existence of these types of articles and social media posts illuminates how black women are discriminated against in the professional sector because of their "natural" hair. 

Read more: Black Men's Hair Finally Gets the Credit It Deserves in This "100 Years" Video

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Andrew Leung

Andrew was an editorial fellow at Mic. He is based in New York and can be reached at aleungnyc@gmail.com

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