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Kelly is a Warm Person, Joseph is a Role Model: Gender Biases in LLM-Generated Reference Letters

Yixin Wan, George Pu, Jiao Sun, Aparna Garimella, Kai-Wei Chang, and Nanyun Peng, in EMNLP-Findings, 2023.

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As generative language models advance, users have started to utilize Large Language Models (LLMs) to assist in writing various types of content, including professional documents such as recommendation letters. Despite their convenience, these applications introduce unprecedented fairness concerns. As generated reference letter might be directly utilized by users in professional or academic scenarios, it has the potential to cause direct harm such as lowering success rates for female applicants. Therefore, it is imminent and necessary to comprehensively study fairness issues and associated harms in such real-world use cases for future mitigation and monitoring. In this paper, we critically examine gender bias in LLM-generated reference letters. Inspired by findings in social science, we specifically design evaluation methods to manifest gender biases in LLM-generated letters through two dimensions: biases in language style and biases in lexical content. Furthermore, we investigate the extent of bias propagation by separately analyze bias amplification in model-hallucinated contents, which we define to be hallucination bias of model-generated documents. Through benchmarking evaluation on 4 popular LLMs, including ChatGPT, Alpaca, Vicuna and StableLM, our study reveal significant gender biases in LLM-generated recommendation letters. Our findings further point towards the importance and imminence to recognize bias in LLM-generated professional documents.

Bib Entry

  title = {Kelly is a Warm Person, Joseph is a Role Model: Gender Biases in LLM-Generated Reference Letters},
  author = {Wan, Yixin and Pu, George and Sun, Jiao and Garimella, Aparna and Chang, Kai-Wei and Peng, Nanyun},
  booktitle = {EMNLP-Findings},
  year = {2023}

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