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Amazon Alexa Accused of Sexism After Being Unable to Reply to Question About Women’s World Cup

Written by Abdullah Shahid ·  1 min read >
Amazon Alexa
Joanne Rodda, a senior Medical School lecturer claims that Alexa failed to provide information about the Women’s England-Australia football match held on August 16

Amazon’s household virtual assistant ‘Alexa’ has just been accused of sexism after it was unable to reply correctly to questions about the FIFA women world cup.

Joanne Rodda, an academic and a senior lecturer in psychiatry at Kent and Medway Medical School, was the first one to discover this pattern. She asked Alexa about the women’s England-Australia football match being held on Wednesday (August 16), however, surprisingly Alexa knew nothing about the match and told her that there was no match today.

Startled at the reply, Dr. Rodda went on to ask a few more questions, this time about the Women’s Super League.

“Out of interest, I just asked Alexa who the Arsenal football team is playing in October. It replied with information about the men’s team, and wasn’t able to give an answer when I asked specifically about women’s fixtures,” told Dr. Rodda.

BBC, a premier British broadcasting company, also replicated the questions and got results parallel to Dr. Rodda’s.

Amazon was quick to respond and called the incident an error, “that has been fixed”. Spokesperson from the e-commerce giant said that when a user asks Alexa a question, it simply pulls out information from the internet, using a variety of sources which even includes Amazon, licensed content providers, and websites.

Alexa also uses automated systems which are equipped with AI whose job is to understand the context of any question and pull out information accordingly; Amazon says that the automated systems got it wrong in this case, but hopefully will get better with time.


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