Do Your Job Postings Sound Gender Specific?


There is a growing awareness by company leaders for the need to recruit more female professionals however, if your job openings sound gender specific, male-oriented- you will fail to attract women candidates.

It may sound strange that there are words that would alienate women professionals but it is a proven fact that words like:

  • Determined
  • Assertive
  • Independent
  • Aggressive

From the TIME article “Women Do Not Apply to Male Sounding Openings” we learn:

Researchers from the Technische Universität München (TUM) showed 260 participants employment ads for management positions. If the ads used words commonly associated with men, like “assertive”, “independent”, “aggressive” and “analytical,” the women said they didn’t find the job appealing, and were less likely to apply. Conversely, if the job used words like “dedicated”, “responsible”, “conscientious” and “sociable” they were much more likely to think the job was a good fit.

It isn’t that women don’t feel strong, independent and analytical, it is just that they respond more to words that use a more collaborative tone. Emily Peck delves into the concept of using gender specific vs. gender neutral terms in her article Here Are the Words That May Keep Women From Applying for Jobs. 

Side by side, following are two graphics- one with words that are gender specific to attract men and one that is more inclusive.words-1


If you are interested in attracting more women candidates for your current job openings, look closely at the wording of your want ad. Does it use words that are inclusive.

NINJA – one of the biggest culprits in the tech industry is the word “ninja.” This is a big turn off for women as it not only resonates more with men, it also gives a little insight into the culture of the company.

Women – Don’t Shy Aware from Gender Specific Want Ads.

For women seeking new career opportunities, don’t let gender specific terms keep you from pursing a position that might otherwise be an exciting challenge. Old habits are hard to break. If a company has always used terms like assertive, ambitious and rigid, it doesn’t mean that the actual position isn’t right for you. It is at least worth throwing your hat in the ring and meeting with the company to get a clearer sense of the company culture. Remember – you will not get 100% of the jobs you don’t apply for.

IMG_5268cJJ DiGeronimo, keynote speaker for women, based in Cleveland, presents keynote addresses on women in leadership, diversity in business and advancement for women.

Check out JJ’s new book Accelerate Your Impact by downloading three free chapters.accelerate your impact

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JJ DiGeronimo

JJ DiGeronimo

Speaker, Author & Thought Leader for Women in Tech & Girls in STEM.

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