Whether we realize it or not, job posts often contain language that favors one gender over another. The way an employer describes a job, such as by using certain words, may imply a bias toward specific traits that may be associated with only one gender.
Although most employers don’t intentionally advertise a job for a specific gender, that could be the end result. The words used in the job description and job post have a much larger impact on who will be influenced by it than you realize, and a job post could discourage qualified candidates simply because of the way it’s worded.
Here are a few tips to eliminate this problem:
- Start by assessing the title. Does the title sound gender neutral, or does it imply one gender? If you’re using titles that seem catchy, like “guru” or “ninja,” it may skew toward male applicants. Instead, choose a title that accurately reflects the job, like “manager.”
- Ensure all pronouns in the job description are neutral. Don’t use “he” or “she” when “you” or a new sentence structure without pronouns could be used.
- Assess how the job itself is described, along with the qualifications required. Many types of adjectives have strong associations with one gender and have come to be accepted descriptors for certain types of jobs that are dominated by a specific gender, so be especially wary of this if you’re hiring in one of these fields so as not to influence the applicant pool.
- Consider utilizing third parties or online tools to assess for gender bias in the way you worded job posts and descriptions. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes (or a neutral online assessment) can notice things you missed or show you words you didn’t realize had a gender bias.
- Pay attention to where you’re posting jobs, as different job boards have different user demographics. By using only one or two job boards that have similar user demographics, you may inadvertently influence the candidate pool’s gender.
- Even the layout of a job ad can influence genders. Consider getting assistance in reviewing jobs to see how different genders react to the same post.
- Remember that even required qualifications can unintentionally have a gender bias. Because there typically are far fewer women in senior roles, requiring applicants to have experience in a senior-level position will most likely resonate with more male applicants than female. Reconsider what the true level of necessary experience is to perform the role.
Changing gender-biased language in job posts will not only help reduce gender gaps but also help organizations fill their vacancies quicker. By ensuring your posts entice everyone to apply, it opens up the applicant pool and gets more applicants in the door quicker.
Once you’ve gender neutralized your job posts, consider going a step further and confirm your social media presence and your website’s career page are also gender neutral in terms of how they describe the company atmosphere and working environment.