Welcome and thank you for visiting my website! I’m a PhD candidate in the Linguistics Department at Stanford University advised by Penny Eckert and Rob Podesva. I am currently a dissertation fellow at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford, and was previously a Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity emerging scholars fellow and a Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence fellow


As a sociolinguist, my research focuses on how we use language to lay claim to social and political ideologies. My dissertation explores the role of respectability politics in language variation and change among African American women in Sacramento, California. I am also invested in understanding the consequences of linguistic bias, and my previous research includes exploring linguistic bias toward African Americans in education and AI. 


I graduated from UC Davis in 2016, where I received the Chancellor’s Award for my honors thesis, Teachers' Language Attitudes toward AAVE in California Public Schools (advised by Robert Bayley)




Other Activities 

Since November 2020, I have worked on a team of incredible researchers at Google. We are conducting foundational research to ensure that voice-AI systems are more inclusive for African Americans. 

Select Publications*

 “I don’t Think These Devices are Very Culturally Sensitive.”—Impact of Automated Speech Recognition Errors on African Americans
Zion Mengesha, Courtney Heldreth, Michal Lahav, Juliana Sublewski, and Elyse Tuennerman
Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence


Racial disparities in automated speech recognition

Allison Koenecke, Andrew Nam, Emily Lake, Joe Nudell, Minnie Quartey, Zion Mengesha, Connor Toups, John R. Rickford, Dan Jurafsky, and Sharad Goel

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

Interview with John Rickford

Zion Mengesha

Journal of English Linguistics

The Interaction Between Phonological and Lexical Variation in Word Recall in African American English
Zion Mengesha and Georgia Zellou

Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Society

*see my CV for a comprehensive list of publications (last updated: 3/24)

Blog Posts

A linguistic perspective: The harmful effects of responding 'All lives matter' to 'Black lives matter'
Judith Degen, Daisy Leigh, Brandon Waldon, and Zion Mengesha

ALPS Lab Blog

Get in touch at zmengesh@stanford.edu