The Effects Of Gendered Language In Job Ads

Illustration for article titled The Effects Of Gendered Language In Job Ads

A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests one mechanism by which jobs become gender-segregated: The way they're advertised, and the way men and women tend to respond differently to those advertisements.

The co-authors "examined more than 4,000 recent job ads. After finding gender-based wording differences in employment postings, the team used those differences to create masculine and feminine job advertisements for identical positions, then asked people to rate the jobs."

What did the authors consider gendered language? "Competitive" and "dominant" were male; "compassionate" and "nurturing" were female. This sounds like an implicit endorsement of gender stereotypes, but researchers applied the different adjectives to the same jobs, with striking results:

For example, the masculine advertisement for a registered nurse read, "We are determined to deliver superior medical treatment tailored to each individual patient," while the feminine advertisement said, "We are committed to providing top quality health care that is sympathetic to the needs of our patients."


One co-author said, "When we ask people why they don't like a job, they come up with all kinds of explanations. Not one participant picked up on gendered language." How depressing that evidently women have been taught to bypass "superior," while men do the same with "sympathetic." And everyone considers it utterly normal.

Wanted: Gender-Free Job Ads [Futurity]

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So, should I gender up my cover letters depending on the hiring manager's gender? I think it might work!