Apple turned out to be the latest technology industry leader to be under investigation by the financial regulators last week after customers of its new credit card service complained that it appeared to offer men higher credit limits than women. Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak had the same complaint on Apple Card. The incident started when David Heinemeier Hansson, a software developer, took the Twitter to complain that the credit line Apple Card offered him was 20 times higher than the amount offered to his wife, even if they filed a joint tax return. He admitted having the worse credit score between the two of them.

Aside from Apple, Thomson Reuters Foundation enumerated in an article it posted, six other tech tools are facing the same accusation of gender discrimination. These include Facebook Ads, Amazon's Recruiting Tool, Digital Assistants, Face Recognition, Google Images, and Job Coaching. For Facebook Ads, for instance, a U.S. study conducted this year found the social network's "algorithms matching marketing for housing and jobs with viewers leaned on labels or stereotypes." Ads for employment in the lumber industry, according to still according to Thomson Reuters Foundation based on the study, were awarded mostly to white men, while secretary posts mostly referred to black women.

Gender Bias

Expressing dismay over Apple Card's gender bias, Hansson said, he and his wife filed joint tax returns, "reside in a community-property state, and have been married for a long time." However, he continued, "the so-called black box algorithm of Apple thinks" he deserves 20 times the credit limit that his wife does. The software developer claimed, the customer service of Apple responded immediately to his complaints and eventually interceded to increase his wife's credit limit as a once-in-a-lifetime response. However, the same representatives reportedly told him there was nothing they could do to change the overall decision of Apple's algorithm.

Following Hansson's complaints that went viral, other customers of Apple Card reported similar instances. As earlier mentioned, even Wozniak, being one of the men behind the success of Apple, also had the same complaint saying, he was given 10 times the credit limit given his wife. The company co-founder called on the government to conduct an investigation on the manner such black-box algorithms are operating, which are more often than not, gender bias.

Apple's Response

Apple, for its part, directed the questions on gender inequality to Andrew Williams, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, who said, the company could not respond publicly on each customer. However, he explained, they (Goldman Sach and Apple) base their credit decisions for Apple Card on their customers' creditworthiness, and not on factors such as sexual orientation, age, gender, race, or any other basis, which the Law does not allow.

Other than Goldman Sachs, Apple has also been in partnership with Mastercard on its Apple Card, which most companies today, hail as a groundbreaking 'digital first' credit card without numbers. It can also be added to the Wallet app on one's iPhone, not to mention, used with Apple Pay. 

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