Welcome and thank you for visiting my website! I’m an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. As a sociolinguist, my research focuses on how we use language to lay claim to social and political ideologies. My current project 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 another line of my research explores linguistic bias toward African Americans in education and AI. 

I received my PhD in Linguistics at Stanford University, co-advised by Penny Eckert and Rob Podesva. At Stanford, my research was supported with generous funding from several fellowships, including the Clayman Institute for Gender Research and the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.

Other Activities 

From 2020-2024, I worked on a team of incredible researchers at Google on the Responsible AI User Experience (Responsible AIUX) team. We conducted foundational research to ensure that voice-AI systems and large language models were 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

*see my CV for a comprehensive list of publications (last updated: 07/24)

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@ucla.edu