(NewsNation) — A women’s advocacy group representing truckers has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging Meta, the Facebook parent company, is steering ads for certain blue-collar professions away from women and older workers based on the type of role.
In the complaint, Real Women in Trucking alleges that Facebook intentionally hides higher-paying job advertisements from women and older workers. It also states that Facebook’s algorithm is pushing ads in the trucking, construction and manufacturing industries to men. Similarly, the complaint alleged the algorithm is steering ads for roles historically considered to be women’s work, such as housekeeping and child care, to female users.
“It’s already difficult to find jobs in trucking,” said Desiree Wood, president and founder of Real Women in Trucking. “Women truck drivers look to Facebook to find reliable information, including job ads. So when employers are trying to connect with us and we’re trying to find them and the algorithm is hiding them from us, this creates a problem.”
Wood said she met with different labor advocates and discovered the problem with ads.
“From our meetings with different labor advocates and talking to them was when I learned about the problem,” Wood explained. “Then going and talking to our members, and that’s when we realized we really needed to do something about this.”
The complaint draws on publicly available data in the company’s ad library, which reveals a pattern of “algorithmic steering” that causes some job ads to be shown to an audience of 90% women or men, The Wall Street Journal reported. For example, an employer seeking to hire truck drivers in North Carolina set the eligible audience for a job ad to all genders. But of the people Facebook showed the ad to, 94% were men and only 11% were 55 and older, according to the lawsuit.
“Many companies around the country want to reach people of all ages, women, men, people of all genders. But when Facebook’s algorithm decides who Facebook thinks should see the ad — who Facebook thinks will find the ad most relevant — we have these incredibly skewed outcomes where 1% of a lot of blue-collar ads go to women and 99% of those ad impressions go to men,” said Peter Romer-Friedman, one of the lawyers representing Real Women in Trucking.
He continued, “I’ve talked to a lot of employers and their lawyers, and they are mad that they can’t get their ads to an equal group of men and women and people of all genders, all ages. They want to be equal-opportunity employers, but Facebook and Meta are making that impossible.
This marks the second time Facebook was accused of discrimination. In 2019, the social media giant agreed to make changes to its ad platform to stop allowing advertisers to use genre, age and ZIP codes to market housing, credit and job openings to its users.
Facebook and Meta have not responded to NewsNation’s request for a statement.