Study highlights gender bias in job ad language

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A new study has revealed how much the language used in adverts creates a recruitment bias in favour of men.

Totaljobs scanned thousands of job adverts based on research on language in advertising, gender in the workplace and related topics and looked for gendered words, as defined by a study from the University of Waterloo and Duke University. Those words include challenging, ambitious and aggressive – deemed male – and cooperative, empathic and committed – deemed female.

Within 77,000 job adverts, they say they found 478,175 words which carry gender bias – an average of six male-coded or female-coded words per job advert.

 

The study shows that male-focussed industries include science, marketing and sales, while female-biased adverts are rife within administration, housekeeping and social care.

The research also shows that a male bias in adverts for senior positions, while it says supporting roles are worded with feminine-coded words. Director roles, for instance, have a 55% bias to ‘male’ words [vs 32% for ‘female’ words]. This compares with job titles that include the phrase ‘assistant’ which carry a female-bias language (28% male bias v. 58% female bias).

Totaljobs refers to research from ZipRecruiter in the US which shows that gender neutral job adverts receive up to 42% more applications than jobs which use more gendered language.



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