In an effort to reduce gender bias in its translations, Google Translate will now show gender-specific translations for some languages. Previously, Google Translate would only show one translation for words that could either have a feminine or masculine form. Translations for words like “strong” or “doctor” would skew masculine, while “beautiful” and “nurse” would skew feminine. Now, Google Translate will show both feminine and masculine translations for words in select languages.
Google’s been on a mission to promote fairness in AI and machine learning, as demonstrated recently by its initiative to remove gendered pronouns from Gmail’s Smart Compose feature. The company says it’s also thinking about how to address non-binary gender in translations as well as gender bias in other Google products like search auto-complete.
Currently, the gender-specific translations are only available for translating single words from English to romance languages like French, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish. Turkish to English is the only language pair that provides both translations for sentences. Google gives an example, seen above, in which typing “o bir doktor” in Turkish will turn up both “she is a doctor” and “he is a doctor.”
The feature currently only works in browsers like Chrome and Firefox, and it will eventually be available on iOS and Android. Google says it’s working to bring support for more languages as well.