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How to reduce unconscious gender bias in job ads

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How to reduce unconscious gender bias in job ads

A while back we shared how job advertisements and job descriptions can include either more masculine or more feminine wording that could detract from some genders applying and ultimately limiting the interest of skilled candidates.

Read on to learn how subtle wording differences to your job advertisements could attract a wider base of applicants with the right talent.

We decided to take a 2019 sample of visitors using our ‘Check my Job’ tool to see if there were any differences or patterns to those analysed in 2018.

In our last post on this topic in January 2018, 80 per cent of those jobs checked were feminine biased gender ads, compared to 20 per cent masculine biased ads. The masculine ads typically contained the words lead/leading, decision/s or active and in some examples a combination of all. The feminine ads all contained the words understand/ing support/ing or again a combination of both.

A year on…

Has anything changed in a year as we become more aware of unconscious bias and gender wording?

The sample of 100 check my job submissions, 18 months on from the first review, showed that there was a slight shift in results to a more balanced split.

  • 68 per cent of jobs checked were feminine biased (down 12 per cent in 2018)

  • 32 per cent of jobs checked were masculine biased ads (up 12 per cent in 2018).

The masculine ads typically contained a mix of the following words: analyst/analytic, lead, confident, logic, force. The feminine ads contained a combination of connect, trust, respond, commit, support.

Interestingly, only 35% of the sample contained an equal opportunities statement that can encourage candidates to apply. Although not strictly necessary, it can encourage a diverse, multi-talented workforce that promotes your fairness in hiring.

Size matters

There is such a thing as an ideal length when it comes to online job descriptions and it is reported that anything less than 2,000 characters is not enough detail and anything more than 10,000 is too much. From the sample of ‘Check My Job’ entries, there was an average of 7,500 characters, the lowest had 1,883 characters and the highest 23,114.

Help is at hand

The ‘Check My Job’ tool has been designed to offer help and suggestions for writing the best possible job description. All of the suggestions that come from the tool are based on findings and research from the clever people! It’s not a hard and fast rule but an aid to help.

You can check your job description for free for unconscious gender bias, length and recruitment best practice. The tool even provides a full list of the feminine, masculine and neutral words.

Download the tool


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