Bias in Linguistics

Gender bias is pervasive, and studies have shown repeatedly that there is a leaky pipeline in academia: at each successive stage of the academic hierarchy, the proportion of women decreases. Our work shows that this is true in linguistics as well. This is particularly true after graduate school: while more than 50% of graduate students in linguistics are women, only about 35% of assistant professors are women. Of academics who have received tenure, about 55% of associate professors are women but only about 35% of full professors are women.

Graph of proportion of women at each career stage

These numbers may reflect a great number of influences. Our ongoing work aims to continue data collection to allow for longitudinal analyses and digs in more precisely to specific causes and symptoms of imbalanced representation in the field.

The results we present here are only a first step towards a data-based approach to understanding bias in linguistics. Ultimately, we would like to use such results to inform meaningful solutions for the issue.