Research shows that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform those that are not. Unconscious bias in job descriptions could mean your organisation is losing out on top talent and furthering the gender imbalance in certain roles and departments. To build more gender diverse teams, remove the gender-biased language from your job descriptions to ensure you are not deterring or attracting candidates based on their gender alone. In job descriptions, words are your primary tool, and academic researchhas shown that many common words used in job descriptions have male or female associations.
How to ensure gender-neutral job descriptions:
1. Check pronouns
When describing the tasks of the 'ideal candidate', use 's/he' or 'you.' Example: 'As Webmaster for XYZ, you will ensure the functionality and efficiency of web infrastructure.'
2. Use gender-neutral titles
Male-oriented titles can prevent women from applying. Avoid including words in your titles like 'hacker,' 'ninja', 'rockstar,' 'guru,' and 'superhero,' and use descriptive, neutral titles like 'engineer,' 'project manager,' 'analytics manager', or 'developer.'
3. Avoid using gender-charged words
Language bias has been proven to predict the gender of your new hire. Words like: 'analyse', 'determine, 'competitive' and 'dominate' attract men, while 'collaborative', 'supportive' and even 'committed' are widely associated with femininity. Avoid aggressive language like 'crush it', also. Tools like Textio or Gender Decoder will help you identify spots in your word choices.
4. Refrain from using superlatives
As female candidates are less competitive by nature, avoid using superlatives such as
'superior', 'world class' or 'expert'.
Code, women-friendly employee resource groups, or mentorship programmes.
5. Limit number of requirements
Limit the number of qualifications in a job description to mitigate job-listing gender bias. Research shows that women are unlikely to apply for a position unless they meet 100% of the requirements, while men will apply if they meet 60% of the requirements. This confidence gap could prevent suitable candidates from applying for your jobs.
Choice of college degree can vary by gender, so be careful when listing a specific qualification as a requirement.
For more information on writing effective job descriptions visit our guide here.
6. Promote employee and volunteer activities
Let your candidates know if you offer volunteer opportunities with organisations like Girls Who Code, women-friendly employee resource groups, or mentorship programmes.
7. Let your values shine
If your company values promote diversity and inclusion, include these concepts in your job descriptions, or list them out. This will give candidates an insight into the environment they would be joining.
8. State your family-friendly benefits
Flexitime, parental leave, and child care subsidies benefit families and your future base of employees. Let candidates know what you offer and that you can accommodate them.
The words you use in job descriptions could be repelling or attracting candidates based on their gender. Follow the above steps to make sure you are not discouraging the most qualified candidates by the language you use.