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Gender Bias in Job postings turn women off from applying

A recent study by Gaucher, Friesen, & Kay published in American Psychological Association has suggested that gender-biased words used in advertising create significant issues for women psychologically when applying for jobs.  That, job descriptions that lack feminine-gender words actually repel female applicants!

The hypothesis the team started with was that “to women, masculine-themed words alerts them to the possibility that they will not fit or do not belong”.

To test the team created feminine oriented and male oriented advertisements.  And tested how they will impact the reactions of the candidates.

the researchers used 96 randomly selected job seekers to read different job descriptions, each constructed with masculine-themed words or feminine-themed words. For example, the masculinity worded advertisement for a registered nurse stated “We are determined to deliver superior medical treatment tailored to each individual patient,” whereas the femininely worded advertisement for the same registered nurse position stated, “We are committed to providing top quality health care that is sympathetic to the needs of our patients.” After reading each job description, the job seekers rated each on job appeal and sense of belongingness.

The women found the adverts with male dominated language much less appealing that those with female dominated words.

The result of the study?

Their hypothesis was indeed right.

….women job seekers were more interested in male-dominated jobs when advertisements were unbiased, making reference to both men and women as candidates. In other words, women and men, for example, may equally like and desire an engineering job, but highly masculine wording used in the job posting reduces women’s appeal of the job because it signals that women do not fit or belong in that job. In this way, qualified male and female applicants are opting out of jobs that they could perform well. Generally, the findings found that gendered-themed words had the greatest effect on women.


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