Incident 47: LinkedIn Search Prefers Male Names

Description: An investigation by The Seattle Times in 2016 found a gender bias in LinkedIn's search engine.
Alleged: LinkedIn developed and deployed an AI system, which harmed Women.

Suggested citation format

Yampolskiy, Roman. (2016-09-06) Incident Number 47. in McGregor, S. (ed.) Artificial Intelligence Incident Database. Responsible AI Collaborative.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
Report Count
Incident Date
Sean McGregor


New ReportNew ReportNew ResponseNew ResponseDiscoverDiscover

CSET Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Full Description

In 2016, an investigation by the Seattle Times found that the LinkedIn search engine feature potentially possessed gender bias, as the LinkedIn search function would present any male users before female users when users would search for names that possess both male and female profiles. In addition, when a user would search a female name, a prompt would ask if the user was searching for the male equivalent of the name. The same did not occur when searching the 100 most common male names.

Short Description

An investigation by The Seattle Times in 2016 found a gender bias in LinkedIn's search engine.



Harm Distribution Basis


AI System Description

Linkedin uses search engines trained on and guided by relative frequencies of words appearing in past queries and member profiles

System Developer


Sector of Deployment

Information and communication

Relevant AI functions

Perception, Cognition, Action

AI Techniques

Machine learning, natural language processing model

AI Applications

recommendation engine, decision support



Named Entities

LinkedIn, The Seattle Times, Microsoft

Technology Purveyor


Beginning Date


Ending Date


Near Miss




Lives Lost


Data Inputs

words appearing in user past queries and member profiles

Incident Reports

LinkedIn's search engine may reflect a gender bias

LinkedIn says its suggested results are generated automatically by an analysis of the tendencies of past searchers.

Search for a female contact on LinkedIn, and you may get a curious result. The professional networking website asks if you m…

Tech companies work toward website searches free of bias

– Search for a female ­contact on LinkedIn, and you might get a curious result. The professional networking website asks if you meant to search for a similar-looking man's name.

A search for "Stephanie Williams," for example, brings up a pr…

LinkedIn’s search algorithm apparently favored men until this week

Until Sep. 7, LinkedIn users searching for female contacts on the site may have noticed some strange results. Searches for common female names were yielding suggestions for male names as well.

Take a LinkedIn search for “Stephanie Williams.…

LinkedIn Tweaks Search Engine After Gender Bias Allegations

MOTTO Samantha Cooney is the content strategy editor at TIME.

A week after the Seattle Times reported that LinkedIn’s search engine may reflect a gender bias, the networking platform announced a tweak to its search algorithm.

The Times repo…

LinkedIn investigation claims searches for female professionals end up suggesting MEN

The question of whether a computer can be biased or not may seem frivolous, but it could make all the difference when it comes to being found online.

Now, an investigation by a US newspaper has suggested that this bias may be present on the…

LinkedIn denies gender bias claim over site search

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption LinkedIn launched in 2002

LinkedIn has denied that its search algorithm has been biased towards suggesting male versions of female names in searches on its website.

A Seattle Times investigation fo…

LinkedIn Denies Gender-Bias Problem


Last week, a Seattle Times investigation revealed that LinkedIn’s search function seems to have a pretty pronounced gender bias. It turns out, when you search for a woman’s name on LinkedIn, the site has a pesky habit of asking wh…

Bye Bye, Gender Bias! LinkedIn Will No Longer Ask Users If They Meant to Search for a Man

Have you ever searched for a contact on LinkedIn only to have the networking site automatically prompt you to look up a man with a similar name? You're not alone. A recent investigation by the Seattle Times revealed a pervasive gender bias …

Does LinkedIn have a gender bias?

By By Tim Sandle Sep 19, 2016 in Technology The ‘professional’ social networking site LinkedIn has been accused of having a gender bias. This is through providing more male professionals in its search results than females. "A Fresh Conversa…


A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.

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