Language representations are an efficient tool used across NLP, but they are strife with encoded societal biases. These biases are studied extensively, but with a primary focus on English language representations and biases common in the context of Western society. In this work, we investigate the biases present in Hindi language representations such as caste and religion associated biases. We demonstrate how biases are unique to specific language representations based on the history and culture of the region they are widely spoken in, and also how the same societal bias (such as binary gender associated biases) when investigated across languages is encoded by different words and text spans. With this work, we emphasize on the necessity of social-awareness along with linguistic and grammatical artefacts when modeling language representations, in order to understand the biases encoded.
Recent studies show that Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies propagate societal biases about demographic groups associated with attributes such as gender, race, and nationality. To create interventions and mitigate these biases and associated harms, it is vital to be able to detect and measure such biases. While existing works propose bias evaluation and mitigation methods for various tasks, there remains a need to cohesively understand the biases and the specific harms they measure, and how different measures compare with each other. To address this gap, this work presents a practical framework of harms and a series of questions that practitioners can answer to guide the development of bias measures. As a validation of our framework and documentation questions, we also present several case studies of how existing bias measures in NLP—both intrinsic measures of bias in representations and extrinsic measures of bias of downstream applications—can be aligned with different harms and how our proposed documentation questions facilitates more holistic understanding of what bias measures are measuring.