Amazon was working on AI-based software for handling and vetting the resumes they receive from job applicants. However, they had to pull the plug after the software started discriminating against women.
As reported by Reuters, Amazon started the project in 2014 with the aim of automating the process of going through resumes and shortlisting the candidates. The AI-based software assigned scores to the resumes in the range of 1 and 5. Much like how their shopping site works.
“They literally wanted it to be an engine where I’m going to give you 100 resumes, it will spit out the top five, and we’ll hire those,” said some of the people involved in the project.
In 2015, Amazon discovered that the software is malfunctioning and not showing accurate results. It was noticed that the software was failing to evaluate results in a gender-neutral way.
The reason behind this flaw was the fact that the resume vetting software learned from the resumes received throughout 10 years. Most of the resumes, during this period, were received from males. The system learned that resumes coming from males are preferable as compared to the resumes from women.
Moreover, it was also found that the system downgraded the resumes that contained the word “Women.” The resumes of two all-women college graduates were also falsely analyzed, as per some people.
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Amazon tried to make modifications to the software to get neutral results, but there was no surety that it would perform normally. Therefore, the Seattle-based company decided last year to scrap the project altogether.
This entire incident highlighted a rather persistent issue of the gender gap in the tech sector. The issue is mainly prevalent in the software development field where males have dominated the industry.