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Coffee Talk

#36 - Gender Bias in Online Reviews - Starring Julia Barnett

Coffee Talk Episode 35 focuses on some illuminating research on gender bias. Margrét is joined by Julia Barnett, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University. Julia's research interests lie in algorithmic ethics and transparency, reducing the socio-technical harms of algorithmic systems, and deep generative applications in social contexts. Her recent study shows how patients perceive doctors differently based on the doctor’s gender. She examined over 400,000 online reviews of physicians.

Gender Bias in Online Reviews - Starring Julia Barnett
Episode 36 - Gender Bias in Online Reviews - Starring Julia Barnett

She found a stark contrast in the words patients use to describe male and female doctors. Male doctors with a five-star rating are more likely to be called “brilliant,” “excellent,” or “superb.” Meanwhile, five-star female doctors are more likely to be called “nice.” So even when patients rate their female doctors highly, their language indicates a lower level of regard.

Julia also looked at doctors that provide lower-quality care. (These doctors had been sanctioned by their state medical boards for serious quality issues.) She found that lower-quality male doctors still garner positive reviews from patients. Meanwhile, patients use strong negative language to describe lower-quality female doctors.

So online reviews are biased, even for low-quality doctors. This finding has HR implications: many patients choose their doctors based on reviews, and reviews may affect performance evaluations. So it’s crucial for HR teams to consider how female and male professionals of the same quality are evaluated differently by those who receive their services.

Julia’s findings are also worth consideration by anyone writing personnel evaluations. Knowing that people tend to use different sets of words for men and women is an invitation for all of us to think about why we use the words we do.

Friday Coffee Talk from Planet Fair is a YouTube series co-hosted by PayAnalytics founder Margrét Bjarnadóttir and Henrike Von Platen, founder and CEO of the FPI Fair Pay Innovation Lab in Berlin.

#39 - A Good Week for Pay Equity: International Women’s Day and Fair Pay Certification

Margrét and Henrike talk about good news for pay equity: International Women’s Day and a major Universal Fair Pay Check win from BMW. The duo discuss why companies pursue fair pay certification. (It’s not just about employer branding – it can build lasting trust with employees.) Plus, they outline the two first steps companies take in order to get certified.

#35 - Let's talk DEI - Starring Salomé Germain Trigano

In Episode 35, the first Coffee Talk session of 2023, Margret Bjarnadottir speaks with Salomé Germain Trigano. Salomé is an expert in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). She established Arba Advisory with the objective of guiding companies and universities in formulating and implementing a potent DEI action plan, fostering a more inclusive and diverse culture, and realizing ambitious and quantifiable objectives.