AI recruitment tool pulled by Amazon for sex bias

Recruitment software was not favourable towards women

Brain, network, network intelligence, AI, computing, connected, artificial intelligence, machine learning

Amazon has been forced to scrap an artificial intelligence system used by the company for recruitment after it was found the technology was biased against female applicants.

The AI tech was first developed at Amazon in 2014 as a way of quickly filtering out most candidates and providing the firm with the top five people. However, by 2015, it was realised that the system was not rating applicants in a gender-neutral way.

The problem lay in how the system was trained. It was fed CVs to detect patterns in recruiting over a 10-year period. Most of the applications came from men. According to a report from Reuters, the system taught itself that male candidates were preferable to women. It downgraded CVs if found words such as "women's" and penalised graduates of all-female colleges.

While Amazon recoded the software to make the AI neutral to these terms, this did not guarantee that the technology would find other methods of being discriminatory against women, the report said.

The team, set up in Amazon's Edinburgh engineering hub, created 500 models concentrated on detailed job functions and locations. The system was also taught to recognise around 50,000 terms that showed up on past candidates' CVs.

The technology learned to assign little importance to skills common across IT applicants, favouring terms more commonly found on male engineers' resumes, such as "executed" and "captured," the report said.

The model used in the AI system had other problems that led to unqualified candidates being recommended for a variety of unsuitable jobs.

This eventually led to Amazon pulling the plug on the team as executives "lost hope" over the project, anonymous sources told Amazon. The tool could not be solely relied upon to sort candidates.

The firm now uses a "much-watered down version" of the recruiting engine to carry out "rudimentary chores".

Featured Resources

The definitive guide to warehouse efficiency

Get your free guide to creating efficiencies in the warehouse

Free download

The total economic impact™ of Datto

Cost savings and business benefits of using Datto Integrated Solutions

Download now

Three-step guide to modern customer experience

Support the critical role CX plays in your business

Free download

Ransomware report

The global state of the channel

Download now

Recommended

Why it's the perfect time to rethink recruitment
Business strategy

Why it's the perfect time to rethink recruitment

10 Sep 2021
What are the pros and cons of AI?
machine learning

What are the pros and cons of AI?

8 Sep 2021
The benefits of hot desking
Business strategy

The benefits of hot desking

1 Sep 2021
The IT Pro Panel
Business strategy

The IT Pro Panel

30 Aug 2021

Most Popular

How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

17 Sep 2021
What are the pros and cons of AI?
machine learning

What are the pros and cons of AI?

8 Sep 2021
Best MDM solutions 2020
mobile device management (MDM)

Best MDM solutions 2020

17 Sep 2021