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Preventing Gender Bias in Job Descriptions

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Last year we saw a massive push for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Organizations have revitalized their branding efforts, established committees, and created wellness programs to sufficiently address potential concerns. However, there’s one area often left unchanged—the job description.

Quite simply, it’s all in the language. Research has shown that most gender bias within job postings is often given/received subconsciously. What might seem like a strong or compassionate pitch may in fact have the opposite effect. A 2011 study deemed that words commonly used to advertise jobs are inherently masculine or feminine. Examples of masculine-coded words include “driven, aggressive, or leader”, whereas feminine-coded words include “support, compassionate, and commitment.” The researchers found that an imbalance in language may deter applicants of the opposite gender from applying for a position.

Left unaddressed, this can provide hiring challenges, especially to companies in male or female-dominated fields. Job postings are often an applicant’s first encounter with your employer brand, and the language used gives insight into its prevalence within your company.

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