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UN Women Ad Uses Google to Reveal Widespread Sexism

By Jules Ebe on November 3rd 2013


Photography has often found itself combined with text or messages to convey a meaning. Hence, the birth of marketing in the earlier 20th century. But it’s not all about cologne or dish soap. Many artists and non-profit organizations have taken the power of imagery and marketing and started placing a mirror to our social conscience. Think of Barbara Kruger as an example. In the end, this combination sometimes shows us a reflection that is not very pretty.

UN Women, a sub-department of United Nations focused on the international need for equality, launched a clever and shocking ad campaign designed to expose the prevalence of sexist attitudes around the world by combining photographs of women with actual search engine results. The project focused on Google’s auto-complete function to reveal what people actually type into their search engine. Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai created the ads based on searches dated March 9, 2013. The posters expose negative sentiments ranging from stereotyping as well as outright denial of women’s rights. The results are real, which makes the effect even more jarring.

Type the words “women should” and you’ll discover that the most common ways to complete the phrase are “stay at home,” “be slaves” and “be in the kitchen.” Decide to type “women shouldn’t” and the phrase usual ends with, “have rights,” “vote” and “work.”

Is this serious?? These are actually the most popular searches?

When we came across these searches, we were shocked by how negative they were and decided we had to do something with them ~ Christopher Hunt, Art Director





[rewind: Photographer Turns Her Camera on Men Who Harass Her]  

The revelations did not stop there. The UN human rights office’s Free & Equal campaign has come up with a series of similar ads that show what happens when you repeat the Google search, only this time you substitute the word “gays” for “women.”

If this is what the world is searching for, how does the world see women and gay people?




Can the power of photography and imagery go beyond selling a product and open dialogue about a cultural mindsets?
What are your thoughts?

Until Next Time …

Stay Inspired ~ Jules

[via UN Women, Huffington Post]


is a Southern California based Conceptual Artist and Photographer. Her work has been featured in several print publications and selections can be seen in local gallery exhibitions. Connect with her on Facebook and Google+.

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