September 22, 2021#Decodethebias addresses biased beauty algorithms

Olay's #DecodetheBias campaign looks at how algorithmic bias is impacting beauty ideals and standards. With male-centric tech culture perpetuating racial biases within the beauty sector, the brand hopes its campaign will encourage more girls to tackle this by pursuing a career in STEM.

Salomé Silva

Coinciding with National Coding Week, Olay's #DecodetheBias campaign aims to raise awareness of coding bias and how it skews standards of beauty. The ad features Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, who explains how a male-dominated technology sector is fuelling a discriminatory search engine and thus reinforcing an exclusionary standard of beauty. While women of color make up 40% of the US population, they only account for 20% of search results for keyword search combos such as 'women' and 'beautiful skin'. The brand is also collaborating with Black Girls Code with the aim to send 1,000 girls of color to coding camp.

Although minority cultures are disrupting beauty ideals and standards, coding bias is letting them down due to the continued lack of women and women of color within STEM. And despite 74% of girls expressing an interest in a career in STEM, women only held 25% of tech jobs in 2020 with women of color holding 2.2%. This is primarily attributed to a STEM culture that perpetuates gender bias, which deters women from pursuing a career in a STEM field. And with 71% of women having worked in a tech company with a strong 'bro culture', there's a need for brands to work on a cultural reset in order to unlock more opportunities for women of color in STEM – The Institute of Coding, for example, promotes diversity in tech.

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