Tales and Tropes: Gender Roles from Word Embeddings in a Century of Children’s Books

Anjali Adukia, Patricia Chiril, Callista Christ, Anjali Das, Alex Eble, Emileigh Harrison, Hakizumwami Birali Runesha


Abstract
The manner in which gender is portrayed in materials used to teach children conveys messages about people’s roles in society. In this paper, we measure the gendered depiction of central domains of social life in 100 years of highly influential children’s books. We make two main contributions: (1) we find that the portrayal of gender in these books reproduces traditional gender norms in society, and (2) we publish StoryWords 1.0, the first word embeddings trained on such a large body of children’s literature. We find that, relative to males, females are more likely to be represented in relation to their appearance than in relation to their competence; second, they are more likely to be represented in relation to their role in the family than their role in business. Finally, we find that non-binary or gender-fluid individuals are rarely mentioned. Our analysis advances understanding of the different messages contained in content commonly used to teach children, with immediate applications for practice, policy, and research.
Anthology ID:
2022.coling-1.273
Volume:
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics
Month:
October
Year:
2022
Address:
Gyeongju, Republic of Korea
Venue:
COLING
SIG:
Publisher:
International Committee on Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
3086–3097
Language:
URL:
https://aclanthology.org/2022.coling-1.273
DOI:
Bibkey:
Cite (ACL):
Anjali Adukia, Patricia Chiril, Callista Christ, Anjali Das, Alex Eble, Emileigh Harrison, and Hakizumwami Birali Runesha. 2022. Tales and Tropes: Gender Roles from Word Embeddings in a Century of Children’s Books. In Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, pages 3086–3097, Gyeongju, Republic of Korea. International Committee on Computational Linguistics.
Cite (Informal):
Tales and Tropes: Gender Roles from Word Embeddings in a Century of Children’s Books (Adukia et al., COLING 2022)
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PDF:
https://aclanthology.org/2022.coling-1.273.pdf