Why is a gender-neutral job ad important?
1. A gender-neutral job ad strengthens your talent pool with a wide variety of applicants
Research shows that gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform those that are not. A job ad is often a prospective candidate’s first impression of your company. It can show culture, values, and greatly impact who applies.
There has been significant research around language that tends to be more subconsciously appealing to men versus women in job ads. For example, words such as “competitive”, “dominant” or “leader” are male-coded, while words such as “support”, “understand” and “interpersonal” are associated with work historically performed by women. Studies have also shown that potential job candidates do not realize the presence of gendered language, and they tend to attribute their disinterest in a job to personal lack of interest in the job or just general lack of appeal.
2. Good job information can be important for a fair and equitable pay equity process
While a job ad may not be what is used for a job evaluation related to the pay equity process, it can be a foundational piece that documents the work of an employee. Gender bias can occur if jobs are described differently. Unconsciously, people may use different or value-laden terms for work that has been traditionally viewed as men’s and women’s.
For example, if both men and women in a workplace perform similar supervisory roles, the men’s job may be described as “managing” while the women’s job may be labelled “coordinating”, assigning different values based on the term used. Similarly, if men’s jobs are described in greater detail than women’s jobs, it might suggest that men’s jobs are more significant.
Tips on writing a gender-neutral job ad
Use specific, gender-neutral titles
- Words like “rockstar,” “superhero,” and “ninja,” can all carry unconscious bias. Neutral, descriptive titles could be “engineer,” “project manager,” or “developer”.
Double and triple check pronouns
- Use “you” when describing job tasks – it takes gender out of the equation.
Carefully consider your ‘must haves’ (requirements) vs. the ‘nice to haves’ (preferences).
- Eliminate “nice-to-haves” and focus solely on requirements to expand your pool of applicants. Research has found that:
- Women are unlikely to apply for a position unless they meet 100 percent of the requirements, while men will apply if they meet 60 percent of the requirements.
- The choice of university degree can vary by gender, so you may be limiting your candidate pool by unnecessarily requiring completion of a specific degree.
Express your commitment to equality and diversity
- Include information on your company values and the ways you promote diversity to appeal to a wider pool of candidates.
State your family-friendly benefits
- Make the position attractive by giving a fuller view of compensation and include how your employees and their families benefit from parental leave, flextime, and pension plans.
Ask for an extra set of eyes
- People with different backgrounds and experiences may help uncover different unconscious biases in a job ad. Sometimes, a committee approach can be helpful.
Check adjectives and verbs
- Research indicates that certain adjectives are associated with men and others with women. For example, “competitive,” “outspoken” and “competent” are associated with men. Words like “sensitive,” “collaborative” and “compassionate” are typically used to refer to women.
Leverage technology to identify potential issues with word choices.
- Some analysis shows that the gender language bias in your job posting may predict the gender of the person you’re going to hire. Using an online tool can help to identify problem spots in your word choices and catch anything you may have missed – pronouns, adjectives, verbs etc
Sample Job Ads
Below are two examples of job ads. Can you spot any gender-coded words? Is there anything the writer may want to consider adding? Subtracting? What kinds of applicants do you think would apply?