Gender bias in recruitment – which words are “biased”?

A large-scale study of British recruitment adverts has revealed that that the use of gender-biased wording in advertising decreases the likelihood of job applications from female candidates.

Sex discrimination in the workplace, whether conscious or unconscious, may begin at an even earlier stage than many believe, according to the results from a recent study.

Among the adverts reviewed, 478,175 words were thought to carry a gender bias, with ads for social care and admin roles most likely to use female-biased language. By contrast, sales and management roles were among the ads most likely to use male-biased language.

The study found that gender-biased language was often used to describe traditional male roles such: lead, analyse, competitive, active and confident. In contrast, adverts that sought softer skills were often unconsciously slanted towards women, deploying words such as: support, responsible, understanding, dependable and committed.

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