How to remove gender bias from your job descriptions

How to remove unconscious gender bias from your job descriptions by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

It’s hard to know how to write job descriptions and remove any unconscious gender bias

You want to hire the best applicants no matter their gender, but your job descriptions could be backfiring. We can’t train our minds to get rid of all of our biases in the space of one article – but what we can do is learn how to remove evidence of unconscious gender bias from our job descriptions before it’s too late!

Your job descriptions are vital for your hiring process and public image. They’re often how people first come into contact with your company.

So when they use language that excludes or offends a big group of people, it’s going to have a massive negative effect.

You could be deterring top applicants and potential clients with poor language choices.

1 – Check your pronouns

How to remove unconscious gender bias from your job descriptions

These days it’s rare to see a job description only write ‘she‘ or ‘he‘, but there are thousands that use both pronouns. Not only is this an awkward way to write, but it is still excluding a big group of people.

Have you heard of non-binary people? Or gender fluid? Even transgender?

Many of these people use ‘they’ as their pronouns. So if you’re trying to be inclusive with your language, ‘he/she‘ and ‘s(he)‘ just don’t cut it!

We would recommend using the second person ‘you‘ or a simple ‘they‘ in your job descriptions.

2 – Watch your job titles

Words like ‘salesman’, ‘repairman‘ and ‘chairman‘ can roll off the tongue, but they’re not always the best word to use. Especially if you’re trying to fight gender bias!

Luckily, these words stick out like a sore thumb.

So keep an eye out for any ‘-man‘s and replace those with ‘-person‘s and you’ll be good to go!

3 – Delete your gendered language

Gendered language can be very obvious. Words like ‘workmanship‘ and ‘sportsmanship‘ stick out like a sore thumb.

These words can creep into your job descriptions when you’re trying to describe how you expect your employees to act. Before you know it, you’ve managed to exclude all people that aren’t men with a single word.

But gendered language goes far beyond the obvious.

Research from the University of Waterloo has revealed a long list of words that have a gender bias. Here is what it looked like:

Now some of these words might be surprising.

People use words like ‘lead’, ‘interpersonal‘ and ‘support‘ in job descriptions all the time!

But these words can build up in your job description, and people can get the hint that they’re not exactly what you’re looking for.

Avoiding these words can be tough – there’s about 80 of them! But a good trick is to return to your requirements or must-have’s section.

Do your applicants really need all of these things or is this just your candidate wish-list? The more precise you can be with what you’re looking for, the less imprecise language you’ll use.

Other types of bias to watch out for

Now that we’ve covered gender, it’s a good idea to look out for other biases that you might have too. Things like age, disability and even race.

As always, we recommend trying your best with your jobs description and then running a blind hiring process. When you ignore information like gender, names, education and experience, you can still find the perfect hire.

You just have to rely on the practical skills of your candidates!

If you need any help with trying to remove unconscious gender bias from your job descriptions or running a blind hiring process, check out DigitalGrads.

About post author

Hi, I'm Daisy. I'm using my passion for writing to work with DigitalGrads on their content and social media campaigns.
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