Take on the internet to correct sports records that are unfavorable to women
KAI SCHWOERER / Stuff
The Black Ferns have won the Rugby World Cup a record six times, but this statistic is hard to find on search engines.
How many times has New Zealand won the Rugby World Cup? According to Google, it’s three. Here’s how many times the All Blacks have won it. For the Black Ferns, that’s six times more than any other nation, but you have to do a little digging to find that statistic.
Bias in searchable facts is hurting women in sport, and a new global initiative led by a group of New Zealand organizations including NZ Football and Women in Sport Aotearoa, supported by UN Football for a Cause, is trying to change that. .
Fix the internetlaunched during Saturday’s Football Ferns-US game at Eden Park, aims to highlight and correct inaccuracies in internet search results and in turn increase the visibility of female athletes.
Former soccer fan Rebecca Sowden is the driving force behind The Right Internet. The founder of sports marketing organization Team Heroine, she says that while many of the world’s top athletes are women, they are not recognized in the same way as their male counterparts.
“Many of the world’s sports records are held by women. But when people search online for factual sports information about male athletes, the results favor male athletes, even when female athletes have higher statistics,” Sowden said.
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Paul Spain, CEO of Gorilla Technology, said that because search algorithms choose what is popular with major publishers, social media platforms and content creators, search results will reflect the specific preferences of individuals or organizations.
This can lead to biased search results that include information that isn’t factually correct, and that’s what Sowden set out to change.
“Because the Internet has learned our biases, many of its search engine results are inconsistent, often favor men, and change depending on who is searching,” she said.
“Our goal is to empower the next generation of female athletes by ensuring that when women are the best in the world, the internet reflects it.”
It is true that the Internet is provided tool to report inaccurate information to the public on its website which is sent to search engine providers.
Soccer’s Fern Meikayla Moore said “The Right Internet” is not about “pitting women against men” but rather highlighting the wrongly searchable facts.
“I think it’s important for those who have achieved these amazing statistics, as well as for everyone who has witnessed such brilliance. Women are heroes, let’s recognize them and eliminate learned bias by empowering and inspiring the next generation,” she said.
Women in Sport Aotearoa Acting CEO Nikki van den Bos said it was perfect timing, especially given the surge in women’s sport New Zealand had experienced over the past 12 months.
“Women’s sports are in the spotlight more than ever. The ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in 2022 and the Black Ferns’ appearance at the Rugby World Cup last year, and this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand mean that online searches can be at an all-time high. Let’s ensure the results reflect facts, not historical biases.”