Lipstick on a Pig: Debiasing Methods Cover up Systematic Gender Biases in Word Embeddings But do not Remove Them

Hila Gonen, Yoav Goldberg


Abstract
Word embeddings are widely used in NLP for a vast range of tasks. It was shown that word embeddings derived from text corpora reflect gender biases in society. This phenomenon is pervasive and consistent across different word embedding models, causing serious concern. Several recent works tackle this problem, and propose methods for significantly reducing this gender bias in word embeddings, demonstrating convincing results. However, we argue that this removal is superficial. While the bias is indeed substantially reduced according to the provided bias definition, the actual effect is mostly hiding the bias, not removing it. The gender bias information is still reflected in the distances between “gender-neutralized” words in the debiased embeddings, and can be recovered from them. We present a series of experiments to support this claim, for two debiasing methods. We conclude that existing bias removal techniques are insufficient, and should not be trusted for providing gender-neutral modeling.
Anthology ID:
N19-1061
Volume:
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)
Month:
June
Year:
2019
Address:
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Venue:
NAACL
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
609–614
Language:
URL:
https://aclanthology.org/N19-1061
DOI:
10.18653/v1/N19-1061
Bibkey:
Cite (ACL):
Hila Gonen and Yoav Goldberg. 2019. Lipstick on a Pig: Debiasing Methods Cover up Systematic Gender Biases in Word Embeddings But do not Remove Them. In Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers), pages 609–614, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Association for Computational Linguistics.
Cite (Informal):
Lipstick on a Pig: Debiasing Methods Cover up Systematic Gender Biases in Word Embeddings But do not Remove Them (Gonen & Goldberg, NAACL 2019)
Copy Citation:
PDF:
https://aclanthology.org/N19-1061.pdf
Video:
 https://vimeo.com/347389631
Code
 gonenhila/gender_bias_lipstick +  additional community code