Gender Artifacts in Visual Datasets

Nicole Meister, Dora Zhao, Angelina Wang, Vikram V. Ramaswamy, Ruth Fong, Olga Russakovsky

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Gender biases are known to exist within large-scale visual datasets and can be reflected or even amplified in downstream models. Many prior works have proposed methods for mitigating gender biases, often by attempting to remove gender expression information from images. To understand the feasibility and practicality of these approaches, we investigate what "gender artifacts"exist in large-scale visual datasets. We define a "gender artifact"as a visual cue correlated with gender, focusing specifically on cues that are learnable by a modern image classifier and have an interpretable human corollary. Through our analyses, we find that gender artifacts are ubiquitous in the COCO and OpenImages datasets, occurring everywhere from low-level information (e.g., the mean value of the color channels) to higher-level image composition (e.g., pose and location of people). Further, bias mitigation methods that attempt to remove gender actually remove more information from the scene than the person. Given the prevalence of gender artifacts, we claim that attempts to remove these artifacts from such datasets are largely infeasible as certain removed artifacts may be necessary for the downstream task of object recognition. Instead, the responsibility lies with researchers and practitioners to be aware that the distribution of images within datasets is highly gendered and hence develop fairness-aware methods which are robust to these distributional shifts across groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2023 IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision, ICCV 2023
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9798350307184
StatePublished - 2023
Event2023 IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision, ICCV 2023 - Paris, France
Duration: Oct 2 2023Oct 6 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision
ISSN (Print)1550-5499


Conference2023 IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision, ICCV 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition


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