"Ms Sweeney has looked into the sorts of abuse that generations of female virtual agents have experienced.
They go back as early as ELIZA, an early natural language processing computer program built in the 1960s which posed as a psychotherapist.
If it's role-playing an engineer or lawyer, for example, users prefer their bots to be blokes — reverting to old-fashioned stereotypes.
Service bots clearly have a job to do, and they wouldn't be doing it very well if they alienated users.
And like its predecessors, the device speaks in dulcet tones and with a woman's voice.
And why do nearly all digital assistants and chatbots default to being female?
But do they really need to be female in order to be functional or relatable?
"Many have been written to sound demure to the point of being extremely forbearing and really passive — almost eerily so," New York-based writer Jacqueline Feldman says.
The algorithm has since changed, possibly in response to mounting criticism by Dr Noble and others.
But you only need to put "unprofessional hairstyles at work" or even an abstract concept like "beauty" into Google Image search to realise there's a serious problem.
They do a lot more than drive Google search and generate the annoying online ads that haunt us every time we shop online.