How accurate are gender detection tools in predicting the gender for Chinese names? A study with 20,000 given names in Pinyin format


  • Paul Sebo Primary Care Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland



accuracy, Chinese, gender detection, misclassification, name, name-to-gender, performance


Objective: We recently showed that the gender detection tools NamSor, Gender API, and Wiki-Gendersort accurately predicted the gender of individuals with Western given names. Here, we aimed to evaluate the performance of these tools with Chinese given names in Pinyin format.

Methods: We constructed two datasets for the purpose of the study. File #1 was created by randomly drawing 20,000 names from a gender-labeled database of 52,414 Chinese given names in Pinyin format. File #2, which contained 9,077 names, was created by removing from File #1 all unisex names that we were able to identify (i.e., those that were listed in the database as both male and female names). We recorded for both files the number of correct classifications (correct gender assigned to a name), misclassifications (wrong gender assigned to a name), and nonclassifications (no gender assigned). We then calculated the proportion of misclassifications and nonclassifications (errorCoded).

Results: For File #1, errorCoded was 53% for NamSor, 65% for Gender API, and 90% for Wiki-Gendersort. For File #2, errorCoded was 43% for NamSor, 66% for Gender API, and 94% for Wiki-Gendersort.

Conclusion: We found that all three gender detection tools inaccurately predicted the gender of individuals with Chinese given names in Pinyin format and therefore should not be used in this population.


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Original Investigation