Gender bias in legal corpora and debiasing it
Word embeddings have become important building blocks that are used profoundly in natural language processing (NLP). Despite their several advantages, word embeddings can unintentionally accommodate some gender- and ethnicity-based biases that are present within the corpora they are trained on. Therefore, ethical concerns have been raised since word embeddings are extensively used in several high-level algorithms. Studying such biases and debiasing them have recently become an important research endeavor. Various studies have been conducted to measure the extent of bias that word embeddings capture and to eradicate them. Concurrently, as another subfield that has started to gain traction recently, the applications of NLP in the field of law have started to increase and develop rapidly. As law has a direct and utmost effect on people’s lives, the issues of bias for NLP applications in legal domain are certainly important. However, to the best of our knowledge, bias issues have not yet been studied in the context of legal corpora. In this article, we approach the gender bias problem from the scope of legal text processing domain. Word embedding models that are trained on corpora composed by legal documents and legislation from different countries have been utilized to measure and eliminate gender bias in legal documents. Several methods have been employed to reveal the degree of gender bias and observe its variations over countries. Moreover, a debiasing method has been used to neutralize unwanted bias. The preservation of semantic coherence of the debiased vector space has also been demonstrated by using high-level tasks. Finally, overall results and their implications have been discussed in the scope of NLP in legal domain.