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Words matter. And the way we use them in job adverts can dictate whether or not people bother to apply. This is a big problem if you're a business trying to recruit more women and ethnic minorities into your workforce. So can tech help remove these unconscious biases?
A job description that uses the phrase "We're looking for someone to manage a team" may seem innocuous enough.
But research, based on an analysis of hundreds of millions of job ads, has shown that the word "manage" encourages more men than women to apply for the role.
Changing the word to "develop" would make it more female-friendly, says Kieran Snyder, chief executive of Seattle-based Textio, an "augmented writing software" company
Textio uses artificial intelligence to pore over job descriptions in real time, highlighting any terms that could come across as particularly masculine or feminine. The software then suggests alternatives.
"We don't explain why this or that phrase excludes women," says Ms Snyder. "We just provide the data and the company in question can come up with their own theory on why that sentence doesn't work."
"We wanted to create a work culture where diverse ideas get shared," says Aubrey Blanche, Atlassian's global head of diversity and belonging.
She says Textio taught her company to avoid terms such as "coding ninja" - a common phrase in Silicon Valley job ads.
And the word stakeholder apparently "serves as a signal to people of colour that their contributions may not be valued", adds Ms Blanche.
"We don't know why, but this is what the data shows."
The researchers also found that gender preferences can be conveyed subtly through words such as "competitive," or "leader", usually associated with male stereotypes, while words such as "support" and "interpersonal" are associated with female stereotypes.
Building on this kind of research, another recruitment tech company, TalVista, assesses job descriptions and highlights "discouraging" terms in red and "inviting" terms in green,
Textio's analysis reveals that ads with lengthy bullet points detailing the role's responsibilities will face a drop-off in women applying for the job.
originally posted by: BlueJacket
a reply to: dug88
wow, so the data shows this gender or racial bias, but they cant explain it?! They collected data, they say what it means, but dont know why. This world has jumped the shark
originally posted by: Dr UAE
well they need to say things like that and offer opinion because they need to stay in business you know
originally posted by: bobs_uruncle
a reply to: dug88
Talk about nit-picky, what a bunch of wannabe HR morons. From the sounds of the title I thought there was a part that said,
"female applicants should have a height to weight ratio of approx 1':20lbs, dress appropriately for a strip club and bring their own pole"
Cheers - Dave
originally posted by: Subrosabelow
Female here. I wouldn't apply for that job either. I'm very much not management material and I prefer to follow the lead of others that are more experienced and such. Nothing about the ad itself screams "men only apply" to me, but my hesitation to take a leadership role definitely does tell me not to bother.
Maybe it's simply that fewer women feel like they're able to lead a team? Especially if it's a new field of employment for you or you've been out of the job market for a while.
I don't care if the team leader is male or female, just that they're easy to work for/with and not a wholly unlikeable individual.
originally posted by: dug88
The thing is...I probably wouldn't apply for a job that said manager in something I didn't feel qualified to be the manager or team leader for either. What does that have to do with being a man or a woman? This doesn't make sense to me...I don't look at the wording for jobs that seem more feminine and think I shouldn't apply.
originally posted by: DanDanDat
How disappointed would someone who expects to "develop" a team be when they find out that I only want them to "manage" a team I have already developed?