Language Of The Gender Gap: Why Job Descriptions Are Biased

Language Of The Gender Gap: Why Job Descriptions Are Biased

Walmart’s efforts to revamp their career website and recruitment strategies over the past eighteen months failed to go far enough to address the gender-bias in job listings, according to Fortune’s Stacy Jones and Grace Donnelly.

Fortune partnered with Texito, a private company that analyzes gender bias in job descriptions, to examine the language used in 4,400 job postings on Walmart’s website from January to March. Although Walmart hopes that their new career-model strategy will promote inclusivity and diversity, 51% of their job descriptions use language that is more likely to appeal to men than women.

Know The Biased Words That Prevent You From Applying To Jobs

Image: Textio’s Facebook

A research study conducted by social psychologists Aaron C. Kay, Danielle Gaucher, and Justin Friesen in 2011, provides evidence that, “gendered wording in job advertisements exists and sustains gender inequality.” As a member of society, you can’t help but subconsciously adopt gender bias into your belief-system. Like colors, words too are categorized as male or female. These unconscious bias impact the decisions you make on an everyday basis, including which jobs you may decide to apply to.

Many companies, especially in the retail and tech industry, are starting to use augmented writing platforms, like Texito, to make their job listings more appealing for women. Women are less likely to apply to a job posting if she feels like she won’t belong or fit in with the company’s culture. 

So what can you do?

Know The Biased Words That Prevent You From Applying To Jobs

Try not to let male-gendered job descriptions intimidate and prevent you from submitting your resume to jobs that you are well qualified for. You may not want to be a part of a company that is dominated by men or promotes a “boys-club” culture. However, a job postings’ rhetoric can be misleading and not congruent with the company’s culture.

RELATED: RECAP: Salary Negotiation – Will Millennial Women Be The Ones To Close The Gender Pay Gap?

For instance, although Walmart’s top management positions may currently be male-dominated, they are trying to create a more inclusive and diverse work environment. I recommend you inspect the website fully and perhaps talk to another woman that works there before you decide not to apply.

Do not let words stand in your way from getting your dream job. From valid sources, below is a list of male-dominated words to watch out for. Some words are obviously male-stereotyped, like “Ninja” or “Chairman,” but others are more jargon-based phrases, like “competitive salary” or “takes risks.” 

Male-gendered, problematic words:

Competitive

Leader

Dominant

Ninja

Superior

Boasting

Superior

Decisive

Independently

Lead

Challenging

Determined

Rockstar

Foosball

Chairman

Best of the best

Hierarchal

Rigid

Takes risks

Analytical

Assertive

Ambituous

Strong

V.I.P

Type A

Inclusive/ Gender-Neutral Words:

Adaptable

Collaborative

Creative

Imaginative

Curious

Excellent

Curious

Flexible schedule

Health

Leans in

Plans for the future

Resilient

Self-Aware

Socially Responsible

Thoughtful

Trustworthy

Up-to date

Wellness program

Multi-tasking

Intuitive

Julia Train

About Julia Train

Julia Train is an AmeriCorps Achievement Fellow at Higher Achievement, an educational non-profit in Washington, D.C. and an aspiring communications expert. After college, Julia became an English teacher in Thailand and while traveling and working throughout Southeast Asia, India, Australia, and New Zealand, she published and maintained a blog called Thai-Ed-Up Abroad. When she came back to D.C. in March 2015, she worked as an intern for the marketing department at Academic Travel, writing for their blog and re-vamping their website. Because she misses writing, she is now in the process of launching a new blog, called Train Tracks. With a passion for social-justice issues and love for writing, she is excited to be a part of the Her Agenda team.
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