FAQs

GENDER ADVERT DECODER

This tool was inspired by a research paper written by Danielle Gaucher, Justin Friesen, and Aaron C. Kay back in 2011, called Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, July 2011, Vol 101(1), p109-28).

In this paper the researchers showed job adverts which included different kinds of gender-coded language to men and women and recorded how appealing the jobs seemed and how much the participants felt that they ‘belonged’ in that occupation.

Their results showed that women felt that job adverts with masculine-coded language were less appealing and that they belonged less in those occupations. For men, feminine-coded adverts were only slightly less appealing and there was no effect on how much the men felt they belonged in those roles.

 

FAQs

Are you saying women can’t be active/innovative/driven? Do you believe men aren’t polite/cooperative/kind?

The words listed have come from academic research into language that is ‘coded’ as masculine and feminine, reflecting existing societal bias about these genders. That means that we associate each gender with those qualities, often at an unconscious level. For instance, we stereotype women as being more polite/cooperative/kind than men, and stereotype men as being more active/innovative/driven than women. Of course, we all know that people of any gender can possess any of those properties.

 

What evidence do you have for the claim that the wording has any effect on the people reading them?

The evidence underlying this tool comes from a research paper published by the University of Waterloo and Duke. The tool checks for the appearance of specific words, then calculates the relative proportion of masculine-coded and feminine-coded words to reach an overall verdict on the gender-coding of the advert. Some words have been reduced to a ‘stem’ to cover a range of noun, verb and adjective variants; for instance “compet” covers “compete”, “competetive” and “competition”.

The results showed that women felt that job adverts with masculine-coded language were less appealing and that they belonged less in those occupations. For men, feminine-coded adverts were only slightly less appealing and there was no effect on how much the men felt they belonged in those roles.

 

What happens to the copy that I check using this tool?

When you paste in your job description and click the “check” button, the text is analysed for coded language. It is not shared, stored or posted elsewhere. No-one else will receive or have access to the results.

 

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