Two years ago, I wrote a post over at Feministe calling out Google Doodles – described by Google as “changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists” – for pretending women haven’t existed for most of history. At the time, I counted only 8 women out of the 109 birthdays that had been celebrated in the program’s history.
This has irked me every time I’ve seen a Doodle honoring a dude since I wrote that post but I stopped blogging, got a full time job, and never went back to count again. Until this morning, when I saw that today’s Doodle is honoring Howard Carter, the British archaeologist credited with discovering Egyptian King Tutankhamen’s tomb and accused, by some, of stealing artifacts from his famous find. I wondered, ‘how is Google doing on representing women’s history in 2012?’
The answer is sad and disappointing, if not surprising.
Of 48 global Google Doodles honoring birthdays in 2012, 5 have honored women. That’s 10 percent. [citation]
Really, Google? Women are more than 50% of the world but you insist, in the way that you mark historical achievement, that only 10% of notable historical humans are female?
With all the serious challenges women face, why is this important? What I wrote back in 2010 still stands:
Because we’ve lived with the myth that men created the world and everything good in it for long enough. As long as men get to designate who and what in history is important, young women will continue to learn that all their sex has contributed throughout all of history is their wombs. If we can’t see ourselves as the inventors, artists, revolutionaries and creators that came before, how the hell are we supposed to fashion ourselves into the modern versions? Schools certainly aren’t doing a very good job in this department and since it processes over a billion searches a day, Google plays an increasingly important role in how and what young people learn.
The company recently posted a job opening for a Doodler in Mountain View. Google, like many of its tech counterparts, would do well to realize that more female voices in the room are proven to be better for business. In this case, a woman who was willing to teach them about half a world of history could do a whole world of good.