Proceedings of the First Workshop on Gender Bias in Natural Language Processing

Marta R. Costa-jussà, Christian Hardmeier, Will Radford, Kellie Webster (Editors)

Anthology ID:
Florence, Italy
Association for Computational Linguistics
Bib Export formats:

pdf bib
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Gender Bias in Natural Language Processing
Marta R. Costa-jussà | Christian Hardmeier | Will Radford | Kellie Webster

pdf bib
Gendered Ambiguous Pronoun (GAP) Shared Task at the Gender Bias in NLP Workshop 2019
Kellie Webster | Marta R. Costa-jussà | Christian Hardmeier | Will Radford

The 1st ACL workshop on Gender Bias in Natural Language Processing included a shared task on gendered ambiguous pronoun (GAP) resolution. This task was based on the coreference challenge defined in Webster et al. (2018), designed to benchmark the ability of systems to resolve pronouns in real-world contexts in a gender-fair way. 263 teams competed via a Kaggle competition, with the winning system achieving logloss of 0.13667 and near gender parity. We review the approaches of eleven systems with accepted description papers, noting their effective use of BERT (Devlin et al., 2018), both via fine-tuning and for feature extraction, as well as ensembling.

pdf bib
Proposed Taxonomy for Gender Bias in Text; A Filtering Methodology for the Gender Generalization Subtype
Yasmeen Hitti | Eunbee Jang | Ines Moreno | Carolyne Pelletier

The purpose of this paper is to present an empirical study on gender bias in text. Current research in this field is focused on detecting and correcting for gender bias in existing machine learning models rather than approaching the issue at the dataset level. The underlying motivation is to create a dataset which could enable machines to learn to differentiate bias writing from non-bias writing. A taxonomy is proposed for structural and contextual gender biases which can manifest themselves in text. A methodology is proposed to fetch one type of structural gender bias, Gender Generalization. We explore the IMDB movie review dataset and 9 different corpora from Project Gutenberg. By filtering out irrelevant sentences, the remaining pool of candidate sentences are sent for human validation. A total of 6123 judgments are made on 1627 sentences and after a quality check on randomly selected sentences we obtain an accuracy of 75%. Out of the 1627 sentences, 808 sentence were labeled as Gender Generalizations. The inter-rater reliability amongst labelers was of 61.14%.

Relating Word Embedding Gender Biases to Gender Gaps: A Cross-Cultural Analysis
Scott Friedman | Sonja Schmer-Galunder | Anthony Chen | Jeffrey Rye

Modern models for common NLP tasks often employ machine learning techniques and train on journalistic, social media, or other culturally-derived text. These have recently been scrutinized for racial and gender biases, rooting from inherent bias in their training text. These biases are often sub-optimal and recent work poses methods to rectify them; however, these biases may shed light on actual racial or gender gaps in the culture(s) that produced the training text, thereby helping us understand cultural context through big data. This paper presents an approach for quantifying gender bias in word embeddings, and then using them to characterize statistical gender gaps in education, politics, economics, and health. We validate these metrics on 2018 Twitter data spanning 51 U.S. regions and 99 countries. We correlate state and country word embedding biases with 18 international and 5 U.S.-based statistical gender gaps, characterizing regularities and predictive strength.

Measuring Gender Bias in Word Embeddings across Domains and Discovering New Gender Bias Word Categories
Kaytlin Chaloner | Alfredo Maldonado

Prior work has shown that word embeddings capture human stereotypes, including gender bias. However, there is a lack of studies testing the presence of specific gender bias categories in word embeddings across diverse domains. This paper aims to fill this gap by applying the WEAT bias detection method to four sets of word embeddings trained on corpora from four different domains: news, social networking, biomedical and a gender-balanced corpus extracted from Wikipedia (GAP). We find that some domains are definitely more prone to gender bias than others, and that the categories of gender bias present also vary for each set of word embeddings. We detect some gender bias in GAP. We also propose a simple but novel method for discovering new bias categories by clustering word embeddings. We validate this method through WEAT’s hypothesis testing mechanism and find it useful for expanding the relatively small set of well-known gender bias word categories commonly used in the literature.

Evaluating the Underlying Gender Bias in Contextualized Word Embeddings
Christine Basta | Marta R. Costa-jussà | Noe Casas

Gender bias is highly impacting natural language processing applications. Word embeddings have clearly been proven both to keep and amplify gender biases that are present in current data sources. Recently, contextualized word embeddings have enhanced previous word embedding techniques by computing word vector representations dependent on the sentence they appear in. In this paper, we study the impact of this conceptual change in the word embedding computation in relation with gender bias. Our analysis includes different measures previously applied in the literature to standard word embeddings. Our findings suggest that contextualized word embeddings are less biased than standard ones even when the latter are debiased.

Conceptor Debiasing of Word Representations Evaluated on WEAT
Saket Karve | Lyle Ungar | João Sedoc

Bias in word representations, such as Word2Vec, has been widely reported and investigated, and efforts made to debias them. We apply the debiasing conceptor for post-processing both traditional and contextualized word embeddings. Our method can simultaneously remove racial and gender biases from word representations. Unlike standard debiasing methods, the debiasing conceptor can utilize heterogeneous lists of biased words without loss in performance. Finally, our empirical experiments show that the debiasing conceptor diminishes racial and gender bias of word representations as measured using the Word Embedding Association Test (WEAT) of Caliskan et al. (2017).

Filling Gender & Number Gaps in Neural Machine Translation with Black-box Context Injection
Amit Moryossef | Roee Aharoni | Yoav Goldberg

When translating from a language that does not morphologically mark information such as gender and number into a language that does, translation systems must “guess” this missing information, often leading to incorrect translations in the given context. We propose a black-box approach for injecting the missing information to a pre-trained neural machine translation system, allowing to control the morphological variations in the generated translations without changing the underlying model or training data. We evaluate our method on an English to Hebrew translation task, and show that it is effective in injecting the gender and number information and that supplying the correct information improves the translation accuracy in up to 2.3 BLEU on a female-speaker test set for a state-of-the-art online black-box system. Finally, we perform a fine-grained syntactic analysis of the generated translations that shows the effectiveness of our method.

The Role of Protected Class Word Lists in Bias Identification of Contextualized Word Representations
João Sedoc | Lyle Ungar

Systemic bias in word embeddings has been widely reported and studied, and efforts made to debias them; however, new contextualized embeddings such as ELMo and BERT are only now being similarly studied. Standard debiasing methods require heterogeneous lists of target words to identify the “bias subspace”. We show show that using new contextualized word embeddings in conceptor debiasing allows us to more accurately debias word embeddings by breaking target word lists into more homogeneous subsets and then combining (”Or’ing”) the debiasing conceptors of the different subsets.

Good Secretaries, Bad Truck Drivers? Occupational Gender Stereotypes in Sentiment Analysis
Jayadev Bhaskaran | Isha Bhallamudi

In this work, we investigate the presence of occupational gender stereotypes in sentiment analysis models. Such a task has implications in reducing implicit biases in these models, which are being applied to an increasingly wide variety of downstream tasks. We release a new gender-balanced dataset of 800 sentences pertaining to specific professions and propose a methodology for using it as a test bench to evaluate sentiment analysis models. We evaluate the presence of occupational gender stereotypes in 3 different models using our approach, and explore their relationship with societal perceptions of occupations.

Debiasing Embeddings for Reduced Gender Bias in Text Classification
Flavien Prost | Nithum Thain | Tolga Bolukbasi

(Bolukbasi et al., 2016) demonstrated that pretrained word embeddings can inherit gender bias from the data they were trained on. We investigate how this bias affects downstream classification tasks, using the case study of occupation classification (De-Arteaga et al., 2019). We show that traditional techniques for debiasing embeddings can actually worsen the bias of the downstream classifier by providing a less noisy channel for communicating gender information. With a relatively minor adjustment, however, we show how these same techniques can be used to simultaneously reduce bias and maintain high classification accuracy.

BERT Masked Language Modeling for Co-reference Resolution
Felipe Alfaro | Marta R. Costa-jussà | José A. R. Fonollosa

This paper explains the TALP-UPC participation for the Gendered Pronoun Resolution shared-task of the 1st ACL Workshop on Gender Bias for Natural Language Processing. We have implemented two models for mask language modeling using pre-trained BERT adjusted to work for a classification problem. The proposed solutions are based on the word probabilities of the original BERT model, but using common English names to replace the original test names.

Transfer Learning from Pre-trained BERT for Pronoun Resolution
Xingce Bao | Qianqian Qiao

The paper describes the submission of the team “We used bert!” to the shared task Gendered Pronoun Resolution (Pair pronouns to their correct entities). Our final submission model based on the fine-tuned BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) ranks 14th among 838 teams with a multi-class logarithmic loss of 0.208. In this work, contribution of transfer learning technique to pronoun resolution systems is investigated and the gender bias contained in classification models is evaluated.

MSnet: A BERT-based Network for Gendered Pronoun Resolution
Zili Wang

The pre-trained BERT model achieves a remarkable state of the art across a wide range of tasks in natural language processing. For solving the gender bias in gendered pronoun resolution task, I propose a novel neural network model based on the pre-trained BERT. This model is a type of mention score classifier and uses an attention mechanism with no parameters to compute the contextual representation of entity span, and a vector to represent the triple-wise semantic similarity among the pronoun and the entities. In stage 1 of the gendered pronoun resolution task, a variant of this model, trained in the fine-tuning approach, reduced the multi-class logarithmic loss to 0.3033 in the 5-fold cross-validation of training set and 0.2795 in testing set. Besides, this variant won the 2nd place with a score at 0.17289 in stage 2 of the task. The code in this paper is available at:

Look Again at the Syntax: Relational Graph Convolutional Network for Gendered Ambiguous Pronoun Resolution
Yinchuan Xu | Junlin Yang

Gender bias has been found in existing coreference resolvers. In order to eliminate gender bias, a gender-balanced dataset Gendered Ambiguous Pronouns (GAP) has been released and the best baseline model achieves only 66.9% F1. Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) has broken several NLP task records and can be used on GAP dataset. However, fine-tune BERT on a specific task is computationally expensive. In this paper, we propose an end-to-end resolver by combining pre-trained BERT with Relational Graph Convolutional Network (R-GCN). R-GCN is used for digesting structural syntactic information and learning better task-specific embeddings. Empirical results demonstrate that, under explicit syntactic supervision and without the need to fine tune BERT, R-GCN’s embeddings outperform the original BERT embeddings on the coreference task. Our work significantly improves the snippet-context baseline F1 score on GAP dataset from 66.9% to 80.3%. We participated in the Gender Bias for Natural Language Processing 2019 shared task, and our codes are available online.

Fill the GAP: Exploiting BERT for Pronoun Resolution
Kai-Chou Yang | Timothy Niven | Tzu Hsuan Chou | Hung-Yu Kao

In this paper, we describe our entry in the gendered pronoun resolution competition which achieved fourth place without data augmentation. Our method is an ensemble system of BERTs which resolves co-reference in an interaction space. We report four insights from our work: BERT’s representations involve significant redundancy; modeling interaction effects similar to natural language inference models is useful for this task; there is an optimal BERT layer to extract representations for pronoun resolution; and the difference between the attention weights from the pronoun to the candidate entities was highly correlated with the correct label, with interesting implications for future work.

On GAP Coreference Resolution Shared Task: Insights from the 3rd Place Solution
Artem Abzaliev

This paper presents the 3rd-place-winning solution to the GAP coreference resolution shared task. The approach adopted consists of two key components: fine-tuning the BERT language representation model (Devlin et al., 2018) and the usage of external datasets during the training process. The model uses hidden states from the intermediate BERT layers instead of the last layer. The resulting system almost eliminates the difference in log loss per gender during the cross-validation, while providing high performance.

Resolving Gendered Ambiguous Pronouns with BERT
Matei Ionita | Yury Kashnitsky | Ken Krige | Vladimir Larin | Atanas Atanasov | Dennis Logvinenko

Pronoun resolution is part of coreference resolution, the task of pairing an expression to its referring entity. This is an important task for natural language understanding and a necessary component of machine translation systems, chat bots and assistants. Neural machine learning systems perform far from ideally in this task, reaching as low as 73% F1 scores on modern benchmark datasets. Moreover, they tend to perform better for masculine pronouns than for feminine ones. Thus, the problem is both challenging and important for NLP researchers and practitioners. In this project, we describe our BERT-based approach to solving the problem of gender-balanced pronoun resolution. We are able to reach 92% F1 score and a much lower gender bias on the benchmark dataset shared by Google AI Language team.

Anonymized BERT: An Augmentation Approach to the Gendered Pronoun Resolution Challenge
Bo Liu

We present our 7th place solution to the Gendered Pronoun Resolution challenge, which uses BERT without fine-tuning and a novel augmentation strategy designed for contextual embedding token-level tasks. Our method anonymizes the referent by replacing candidate names with a set of common placeholder names. Besides the usual benefits of effectively increasing training data size, this approach diversifies idiosyncratic information embedded in names. Using same set of common first names can also help the model recognize names better, shorten token length, and remove gender and regional biases associated with names. The system scored 0.1947 log loss in stage 2, where the augmentation contributed to an improvements of 0.04. Post-competition analysis shows that, when using different embedding layers, the system scores 0.1799 which would be third place.

Gendered Pronoun Resolution using BERT and an Extractive Question Answering Formulation
Rakesh Chada

The resolution of ambiguous pronouns is a longstanding challenge in Natural Language Understanding. Recent studies have suggested gender bias among state-of-the-art coreference resolution systems. As an example, Google AI Language team recently released a gender-balanced dataset and showed that performance of these coreference resolvers is significantly limited on the dataset. In this paper, we propose an extractive question answering (QA) formulation of pronoun resolution task that overcomes this limitation and shows much lower gender bias (0.99) on their dataset. This system uses fine-tuned representations from the pre-trained BERT model and outperforms the existing baseline by a significant margin (22.2% absolute improvement in F1 score) without using any hand-engineered features. This QA framework is equally performant even without the knowledge of the candidate antecedents of the pronoun. An ensemble of QA and BERT-based multiple choice and sequence classification models further improves the F1 (23.3% absolute improvement upon the baseline). This ensemble model was submitted to the shared task for the 1st ACL workshop on Gender Bias for Natural Language Processing. It ranked 9th on the final official leaderboard.

Gendered Ambiguous Pronouns Shared Task: Boosting Model Confidence by Evidence Pooling
Sandeep Attree

This paper presents a strong set of results for resolving gendered ambiguous pronouns on the Gendered Ambiguous Pronouns shared task. The model presented here draws upon the strengths of state-of-the-art language and coreference resolution models, and introduces a novel evidence-based deep learning architecture. Injecting evidence from the coreference models compliments the base architecture, and analysis shows that the model is not hindered by their weaknesses, specifically gender bias. The modularity and simplicity of the architecture make it very easy to extend for further improvement and applicable to other NLP problems. Evaluation on GAP test data results in a state-of-the-art performance at 92.5% F1 (gender bias of 0.97), edging closer to the human performance of 96.6%. The end-to-end solution presented here placed 1st in the Kaggle competition, winning by a significant lead.

Equalizing Gender Bias in Neural Machine Translation with Word Embeddings Techniques
Joel Escudé Font | Marta R. Costa-jussà

Neural machine translation has significantly pushed forward the quality of the field. However, there are remaining big issues with the output translations and one of them is fairness. Neural models are trained on large text corpora which contain biases and stereotypes. As a consequence, models inherit these social biases. Recent methods have shown results in reducing gender bias in other natural language processing tools such as word embeddings. We take advantage of the fact that word embeddings are used in neural machine translation to propose a method to equalize gender biases in neural machine translation using these representations. Specifically, we propose, experiment and analyze the integration of two debiasing techniques over GloVe embeddings in the Transformer translation architecture. We evaluate our proposed system on the WMT English-Spanish benchmark task, showing gains up to one BLEU point. As for the gender bias evaluation, we generate a test set of occupations and we show that our proposed system learns to equalize existing biases from the baseline system.

Automatic Gender Identification and Reinflection in Arabic
Nizar Habash | Houda Bouamor | Christine Chung

The impressive progress in many Natural Language Processing (NLP) applications has increased the awareness of some of the biases these NLP systems have with regards to gender identities. In this paper, we propose an approach to extend biased single-output gender-blind NLP systems with gender-specific alternative reinflections. We focus on Arabic, a gender-marking morphologically rich language, in the context of machine translation (MT) from English, and for first-person-singular constructions only. Our contributions are the development of a system-independent gender-awareness wrapper, and the building of a corpus for training and evaluating first-person-singular gender identification and reinflection in Arabic. Our results successfully demonstrate the viability of this approach with 8% relative increase in Bleu score for first-person-singular feminine, and 5.3% comparable increase for first-person-singular masculine on top of a state-of-the-art gender-blind MT system on a held-out test set.

Measuring Bias in Contextualized Word Representations
Keita Kurita | Nidhi Vyas | Ayush Pareek | Alan W Black | Yulia Tsvetkov

Contextual word embeddings such as BERT have achieved state of the art performance in numerous NLP tasks. Since they are optimized to capture the statistical properties of training data, they tend to pick up on and amplify social stereotypes present in the data as well. In this study, we (1) propose a template-based method to quantify bias in BERT; (2) show that this method obtains more consistent results in capturing social biases than the traditional cosine based method; and (3) conduct a case study, evaluating gender bias in a downstream task of Gender Pronoun Resolution. Although our case study focuses on gender bias, the proposed technique is generalizable to unveiling other biases, including in multiclass settings, such as racial and religious biases.

On Measuring Gender Bias in Translation of Gender-neutral Pronouns
Won Ik Cho | Ji Won Kim | Seok Min Kim | Nam Soo Kim

Ethics regarding social bias has recently thrown striking issues in natural language processing. Especially for gender-related topics, the need for a system that reduces the model bias has grown in areas such as image captioning, content recommendation, and automated employment. However, detection and evaluation of gender bias in the machine translation systems are not yet thoroughly investigated, for the task being cross-lingual and challenging to define. In this paper, we propose a scheme for making up a test set that evaluates the gender bias in a machine translation system, with Korean, a language with gender-neutral pronouns. Three word/phrase sets are primarily constructed, each incorporating positive/negative expressions or occupations; all the terms are gender-independent or at least not biased to one side severely. Then, additional sentence lists are constructed concerning formality of the pronouns and politeness of the sentences. With the generated sentence set of size 4,236 in total, we evaluate gender bias in conventional machine translation systems utilizing the proposed measure, which is termed here as translation gender bias index (TGBI). The corpus and the code for evaluation is available on-line.