In my last post I on this subject found that the representation of women online appeared to be very narrow. But the search was cursory and limited to using Google and the following terms under images: 1) Women and 2) Disabled Women.
Today’s research will be the similar but with two differences. Firstly I will repeat the search using a different search engine and compare and contrast the findings with my last post. Then I will carry out an additional image search using the following three distinct terms 1) disabled women; 2) impaired women and 3) ill women with the aim to see what the categories show.
The first finding has nothing to do with disability but a lot to do with the internet. I typed in the term “search engines” in Google only to find what? That there is a website dedicated to this… of course there is – its called: http://www.thesearchenginelist.com/ I selected DuckDuckGo for the search as the engine has received some good press for promising not to track users’ searches.
First screen grab of images found under DuckDuckGo search for the term “Woman”
First screen grab of images found under DuckDuckGo search for the term “Disabled Women”
There appears to be a little disenable difference in the visual represented of women and the term “disabled women” within the DuckDuckGo search engine with a touch more ethnic diversity shown for disabled women. But when the results of this post are compared to my last post where I undertook the same exercise using the Google search engine no discernible difference can been seen. Both search engines present the top image search results for “women” as very narrow representations (white and youthful) and represent “disabled women” in similar terms with very small changes being a little more ethnic diversity. Disability is signified predominantly through the inclusion of wheelchairs in the images.
Widening the search terminology
So are the any differences between images shown the following terms: “impaired women” and then “ill women”?
First screen grab of images found for the term “Impaired Women”using DuckDuckGo search engine
First screen grab of images found search for the term “Impaired Women” using Google search engine
First screen grab of images found for the term “ill women” using DuckDuckGo search engine
First screen grab of images found for the term “ill women” using Google search engine
There is little difference in the results thrown up by the two search engines. Both severely constrain the images that are shown to represent women, disabled women, impaired women and ill women.
Only the images shown for disabled women offered any sort of ethnic diversity but the counter to this was that any diversity of the representation of disability was omitted. However, using the term “impaired women” did result in different images. This time wheelchairs were largely replaced by images of women from a range of ethnicities but with visual impairments. However when the term “ill women” was used the imagery returned to its previous state with the term being restricted in its representation to young white women and illness signified by pills, and beds.
What does this research tell me? Popular online representations of women using the top layer of search engines shows that rather than any diversity being shown to represent them women are reduced to young white types and the terms disability and impairment do result in a slight widening of this to include some representations of women now including people of colour but with very narrow limited representations of disability and impairment.
So I now know something of the representation of women online and at a top level search in terms of imagery and need to explore this in terms of their representation in important imagery.
I dono what duck duck go is but could it be because google is a western search engines.
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