Studying and mitigating gender and other biases in natural language have become important areas of research from both algorithmic and data perspectives. This paper explores the idea of reducing gender bias in a language generation context by generating gender variants of sentences. Previous work in this field has either been rule-based or required large amounts of gender balanced training data. These approaches are however not scalable across multiple languages, as creating data or rules for each language is costly and time-consuming. This work explores a light-weight method to generate gender variants for a given text using pre-trained language models as the resource, without any task-specific labelled data. The approach is designed to work on multiple languages with minimal changes in the form of heuristics. To showcase that, we have tested it on a high-resourced language, namely Spanish, and a low-resourced language from a different family, namely Serbian. The approach proved to work very well on Spanish, and while the results were less positive for Serbian, it showed potential even for languages where pre-trained models are less effective.
Gender bias is a frequent occurrence in NLP-based applications, especially pronounced in gender-inflected languages. Bias can appear through associations of certain adjectives and animate nouns with the natural gender of referents, but also due to unbalanced grammatical gender frequencies of inflected words. This type of bias becomes more evident in generating conversational utterances where gender is not specified within the sentence, because most current NLP applications still work on a sentence-level context. As a step towards more inclusive NLP, this paper proposes an automatic and generalisable re-writing approach for short conversational sentences. The rewriting method can be applied to sentences that, without extra-sentential context, have multiple equivalent alternatives in terms of gender. The method can be applied both for creating gender balanced outputs as well as for creating gender balanced training data. The proposed approach is based on a neural machine translation system trained to ‘translate’ from one gender alternative to another. Both the automatic and manual analysis of the approach show promising results with respect to the automatic generation of gender alternatives for conversational sentences in Spanish.