The representation of Asians in linguistics

Compiled from the pages of the Linguistic Society of America


Presidents (1925-2021): 97 in all, 2 Asians (in 1945 and 2011)


Members of the Executive Committee (2005-2021): 67 members, 3 Asians (2 faculty, 1 student)


Fellows of the Linguistic Society of America (2006-2022): 166 fellows, 3 Asians (elected in 2007, 2015, and 2016)


Honorary foreign members (2005-2021): 46 members, 7 Asians


LSA Summer Institute Named Professors and Forum Lecturers (2001-2021): 61 invitees, 0 Asian


LSA Annual Meeting Plenary Speakers (2001-2022): 68 invitees, 1 Asian (Presidential addresses excluded; see above)


The ancient/historical data is not particularly informative for obvious reasons: the demographics of linguistics have changed a lot especially recently hence the data is primarily from the past 20 years or so (when I became a linguist). How many Asians are current or recent members of the LSA? The link to LSA annual reports that should contain such information is broken. A rough count can be obtained from the LSA member directory of those who chose to disclose their ethnicity. A search produced a total of 90 pages of names, with 16 pages of Asian or Asian Americans. The number of names per page is not always the same but it is reasonable to conclude that approximately 18% of the LSA members are Asian or Asian Americans. Impressionistically, the percentage among young members of the community is higher.

As a point of reference, consider some comparisons to a neighboring community, the Association for Computational Linguistics, which intersects with linguistics but is primarily situated in engineering, at least traditionally known for its diversity problems. See the list of ACL fellows and ACL lifetime achievement award recipients, and the list of invited speakers at some ACL-affiliated conferences (until 2017). I have not been able to find a centralized place for the more recent conferences as I do not regularly attend them but I was a plenary speaker at the 2018 NAACL conference.