Maite Taboada Named to Royal Society of Canada

September 09, 2022

Eight Simon Fraser University scholars have been named to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) in 2022 for their research and innovation in their respective fields. Recognized this year as an RSC Fellow from the Department of Linguistics is Distinguished SFU Professor Maite Taboada. Taboada and this year’s RSC Fellows are recognized for their exceptional and original publications, intellectual achievements, and creative activities in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

“I am thrilled to join the scholarly community at the Royal Society,” says Taboada, “I am inspired by the work being done under the RSC umbrella by different policy groups and task forces.”

Taboada has been a member of the Department of Linguistics at SFU since 2001. In the past 20 years, Taboada has made a name for herself as a linguist working at the intersection of discourse analysis and computational linguistics. In computational linguistics, she develops methods and algorithms to process and exploit discourse structure in different applications, such as discourse parsing or sentiment analysis. Her research is interdisciplinary, at the boundary between theoretical and applied fields, between the social sciences and engineering.

One of Taboada’s most well-known projects is that of the Gender Gap Tracker. The Gender Gap Tracker, a collaboration between the Discourse and Processing Lab, Informed Opinions, and SFU’s Big Data Hub, measures the ratio of women to men quoted in news stories in mainstream Canadian media. The tracker has been live for almost four years and collects daily statistics that highlight the gender gap that exists in terms of who is quoted in mainstream English media in Canada. While the Gender Gap Tracker currently only runs analysis of gender in English-language media, Taboada is part of a team that recently received a grant from L’Observatoire international sur les impacts sociétaux de l’IA et du numérique (OBVIA) to extend the Gender Gap Tracker to look specifically at French media in Canada. There are also plans to develop versions in German and Spanish with research collaborators in Germany and Spain.

When thinking toward the future, Taboada had this to say, “I hope that my work helps us understand how we communicate, how we convey opinion and evaluation and how we can have healthier conversations, online and offline.”

In a recent opinion piece, Maite Taboada discusses one of the dangers of online toxicity: its potential to become banal