Does Google Think You're Male or Female?

How to see or change your demographic data on Google

Close-Up Of Male And Female Toilet Signs On Wall
Maik Schmalenberg / EyeEm / Getty Images

Google's highest income source is its advertisements in the form of text links and traditional ads. Google uses ad personalization information including your gender to target you for ads. You may have entered the information in your Google profile or Google may have picked it up by other means.

The way this works is through web browser cookies stored by a browser that follows you from site to site and identifies a little bit about you for advertisers. Specifically, cookies indicate your interests, previously visited sites, and inferred demographic information.

That approach may lead to the feeling that Google ads are stalking you. When you visit a website, you may notice ads from a website you've previously visited, even on a different device. When you visit several websites about shoes, you might notice that advertisements on other sites talk about footwear.

That's either relevant or creepy ... perhaps a little of both. Fortunately, you're not stuck passively accepting this information. You can see and adjust the interest-based advertising from Google, and you can mute the ads for a while by visiting your Google account settings.

How to View and Change Your Ad Settings

Google ad personalization screen
  1. Log in to your Google account if you aren't already logged in and open the Ads Settings page in a browser.

  2. Look in the How your ads are personalized section for categories of information Google has gathered about you. The first category contains personal information such as your gender and age. The rest of the categories cover areas of interest.

  3. Select any category for a description of where Google gathered the information. If you no longer want Google to use the information, click the Turn off button that appears in every category. When you do, Google won't consider that interest when targeting you with ads.

  4. The personal category — the one that displays your gender and age — contains a gender subcategory where you can pick Male, Female, or Rather not say, or go into the Gender settings and select the OR ADD CUSTOM GENDER link.

    Another way to change your gender is to open your Google account, which includes a Personal info category where you can change your gender.

  5. Enter your choice in either location and choose SAVE.

Customize the Ads Google Shows You

Change the kinds of ads Google shows you by turning off any topics you don't want used to target ads to you in the Ad Settings screen. Don't be surprised if this takes a while. It isn't unusual to have hundreds of interest categories that have been identified through your browsing history.

Turn Off Ad Personalization

To completely disable Google's ad personalization, move the slider on the Ad Settings screen to the OFF position. You'll still see ads, but you won't be closely targeted. Ads can be influenced by the time of day, your general location, or the subject of a web page you are currently on.

Here is what Google has to say about turning off ad personalization:

  • You’ll still see ads, but they’ll be less useful to you.
  • You’ll no longer be able to turn off ads from specific advertisers.
  • Any advertisers or interests you've turned off won't be saved.