Word Embeddings Quantify 100 Years of Gender and Ethnic Stereotypes

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Authors Londa Schiebinger, Dan Jurafsky, James Zou, Nikhil Garg
Journal/Conference Name Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Word embeddings use vectors to represent words such that the geometry between vectors captures semantic relationship between the words. In this paper, we develop a framework to demonstrate how the temporal dynamics of the embedding can be leveraged to quantify changes in stereotypes and attitudes toward women and ethnic minorities in the 20th and 21st centuries in the United States. We integrate word embeddings trained on 100 years of text data with the U.S. Census to show that changes in the embedding track closely with demographic and occupation shifts over time. The embedding captures global social shifts -- e.g., the women's movement in the 1960s and Asian immigration into the U.S -- and also illuminates how specific adjectives and occupations became more closely associated with certain populations over time. Our framework for temporal analysis of word embedding opens up a powerful new intersection between machine learning and quantitative social science.
Date of publication 2017
Code Programming Language Python

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