Gender bias in job adverts.

We’re looking for lots of digital people to come and join us @CoopDigital and I’m helping to find them. I was interested to see if there was any link between the gender of the writer of a job advert to that of the applicants. Here’s what I’ve found out so far:

Content Designer

  • Advert written solely by a female
  • Total applications received: 25
  • Female applicants: 13
  • Male applicants: 12
  • This means 52% of applications are from women

Polly1

 Digital Delivery Manager

  • Advert written collaboratively between female and male colleagues
  • Total applications received: 17
  • Female: 3
  • Male: 14
  • Only 18% of applications are from women.

Product Manager

  • Advert written solely by male colleague
  • Total applications received: 40
  • Female: 5
  • Male: 35
  • Only 12.5% of applications are from females.

Looking at the stats above there appears to be a link between the gender of the writer and the diversity of the applicants.

So how to tackle this? 

There is some great research surrounding gender bias within job adverts. The Women’s College Coalition found that men apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the criteria, while women wait until they feel they meet 100%. We should definitely consider this when writing future adverts. Do we really need all 10 bullet points highlighting role accountabilities? Could we scale down to just 5 and open ourselves up to more relevant and diverse applications?

What about the look of the advert? The colour, format and font used? All things to consider and I’m to go away and do more research on this.

I am going to use this gender decoder to check all new job adverts. The study that it was based on found that masculine-coded language puts women off more and that the effect on feminine-coded language on male applicants is only slight. Here are some blog posts on the subject that inspired the tool:

http://www.eremedia.com/ere/you-dont-know-it-but-women-see-gender-bias-in-your-job-postings/
http://madebymany.com/blog/can-a-few-well-chosen-words-improve-inclusivity

I’d be interested to hear any experiences or findings anyone else may have on this subject.

Polly Haslam

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