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Fair is Better than Sensational:Man is to Doctor as Woman is to Doctor

Malvina Nissim, Rik van Noord, Rob van der Goot

Analogies such as man is to king as woman is to X are often used to illustrate the amazing power of word embeddings. Concurrently, they have also exposed how strongly human biases are encoded in vector spaces built on natural language. While finding that queen is the answer to man is to king as woman is to X leaves us in awe, papers have also reported finding analogies deeply infused with human biases, like man is to computer programmer as woman is to homemaker, which instead leave us with worry and rage. In this work we show that,often unknowingly, embedding spaces have not been treated fairly. Through a series of simple experiments, we highlight practical and theoretical problems in previous works, and demonstrate that some of the most widely used biased analogies are in fact not supported by the data. We claim that rather than striving to find sensational biases, we should aim at observing the data "as is", which is biased enough. This should serve as a fair starting point to properly address the evident, serious, and compelling problem of human bias in word embeddings.

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