Gendered language in job ads "may lead some women away from occupations they may otherwise have found interesting," thereby perpetuating employment discrimination, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:
The clues come in the form of gendered words like competitive and dominant (male) versus compassionate and nurturing (female), the researchers report. Both men and women show a preference for job descriptions matching their gender, women more strongly so. But no one in the study was aware of the effect, the researchers discovered.
After examining more than 4,000 recent job ads, senior author Aaron Kay and his team wrote their own. "When we used more masculine wording, the traditionally female-dominated jobs became more appealing to men," Kay said. This unconscious behavior could explain gendered disparities in jobs like nursing. Moreover, genuine attempts at diversifying could be undermined if job ads have gendered wording.