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Users of search systems often reformulate their queries by adding query terms to reflect their evolving information need or to more precisely express their information need when the system fails to surface relevant content. Analyzing these query reformulations can inform us about both system and user behavior. In this work, we study a special category of query reformulations that involve specifying demographic group attributes, such as gender, as part of the reformulated query (e.g., “olympic 2021 soccer results” → “olympic 2021 women‘s soccer results”). There are many ways a query, the search results, and a demographic attribute such as gender may relate, leading us to hypothesize different causes for these reformulation patterns, such as under-representation on the original result page or based on the linguistic theory of markedness. This paper reports on an observational study of gender-specializing query reformulations—their contexts and effects—as a lens on the relationship between system results and gender, based on large-scale search log data from Bing. We find that these reformulations sometimes correct for and other times reinforce gender representation on the original result page, but typically yield better access to the ultimately-selected results. The prevalence of these reformulations—and which gender they skew towards—differ by topical context. However, we do not find evidence that either group under-representation or markedness alone adequately explains these reformulations. We hope that future research will use such reformulations as a probe for deeper investigation into gender (and other demographic) representation on the search result page.more » « lessFree, publicly-accessible full text available July 23, 2024
Information access research (and development) sometimes makes use of gender, whether to report on the demographics of participants in a user study, as inputs to personalized results or recommendations, or to make systems gender-fair, amongst other purposes. This work makes a variety of assumptions about gender, however, that are not necessarily aligned with current understandings of what gender is, how it should be encoded, and how a gender variable should be ethically used. In this work, we present a systematic review of papers on information retrieval and recommender systems that mention gender in order to document how gender is currently being used in this field. We find that most papers mentioning gender do not use an explicit gender variable, but most of those that do either focus on contextualizing results of model performance, personalizing a system based on assumptions of user gender, or auditing a model’s behavior for fairness or other privacy-related issues. Moreover, most of the papers we review rely on a binary notion of gender, even if they acknowledge that gender cannot be split into two categories. We connect these findings with scholarship on gender theory and recent work on gender in human-computer interaction and natural language processing. We conclude by making recommendations for ethical and well-grounded use of gender in building and researching information access systems.more » « lessFree, publicly-accessible full text available March 19, 2024
Information access systems, such as search and recommender systems, often use ranked lists to present results believed to be relevant to the user’s information need. Evaluating these lists for their fairness along with other traditional metrics provide a more complete understanding of an information access system’s behavior beyond accuracy or utility constructs. To measure the (un)fairness of rankings, particularly with respect to protected group(s) of producers or providers, several metrics have been proposed in the last several years. However, an empirical and comparative analyses of these metrics showing the applicability to specific scenario or real data, conceptual similarities, and differences is still lacking. We aim to bridge the gap between theoretical and practical application of these metrics. In this paper we describe several fair ranking metrics from the existing literature in a common notation, enabling direct comparison of their approaches and assumptions, and empirically compare them on the same experimental setup and data sets in the context of three information access tasks. We also provide a sensitivity analysis to assess the impact of the design choices and parameter settings that go in to these metrics and point to additional work needed to improve fairness measurement.more » « less
Music is an important part of childhood development, with online music listening platforms being a significant channel by which children consume music. Children’s offline music listening behavior has been heavily researched, yet relatively few studies explore how their behavior manifests online. In this paper, we use data from LastFM 1 Billion and the Spotify API to explore online music listening behavior of children, ages 6–17, using education levels as lenses for our analysis. Understanding the music listening behavior of children can be used to inform the future design of recommender systems.more » « less
In this position paper, we argue for the need to investigate if and how gender stereotypes manifest in search and recommender this http URL a starting point, we particularly focus on how these systems may propagate and reinforce gender stereotypes through their results in learning environments, a context where teachers and children in their formative stage regularly interact with these systems. We provide motivating examples supporting our concerns and outline an agenda to support future research addressing the phenomena.more » « less