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Gender Bias and Stereotypes in Linguistic Example Sentences

Sarah Babinski and Chris Geissler
Event time: 
Friday, September 25, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
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Event description: 
Gender bias and stereotypes in linguistic example sentences
Hadas KotekRikker Dokkum, Sarah Babinski, Christopher Geissler
Presented by Babinski & Geissler
This talk presents results on the distribution of gender in arguments in example sentences in contemporary linguistics publications. Prior studies have shown that example sentences in syntax textbooks systematically under-represent women and perpetuate gender stereotypes (Macaulay and Brice 1994, 1997; Pabst et al. 2018). Here we examine example sentences in articles published over the past 20 years in LanguageLinguistic Inquiry, and Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, and find striking similarities to this prior work. Among our findings, we show a stark imbalance of male (N=12006) to female (N=5670) arguments, where male-gendered arguments are more likely to be subjects, and female arguments non-subjects. We show that female-gendered arguments are less likely to be referred to using pronouns and more likely to be referred to using a kinship term, whereas male-gendered arguments are more likely to have occupations and to perpetrate violence. We show that this pattern has remained stable, with little change, over the course of the twenty years that we examine, leading up to the present day. We conclude with a brief discussion of possible remedies and suggestions for improvement.


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Event Type: 
Lunch Talks