Gender Bias on Instagram

With over 350 million photos posted to Facebook every day and over 60 million uploaded to Instagram, it is clear that visual social media carries real influence in the world we live in.

Looking at user generated content (content uploaded by ordinary people, not brands or businesses) can provide visually and emotionally rich insights into what people think and how they feel.

Due to its cultural significance and emotionally-led content, we thought visual social media was fertile ground to analyse gender bias, and so we took to Instagram to see the ways in which gender bias is presented.

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We started by identifying some hashtags in which we thought bias was likely to be present and collated a sample of images under each. We then conducted semiotic analysis on our sample to find patterns within the images, and quantified each to give an indication of scale.

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The results for #engineer show visual social media isn’t devoid of gender bias. On the contrary in fact, it is rather prevalent.

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