It’s How You Say It

As someone who works in a male-dominated field like political journalism, I’m constantly aware of the gender imbalance in the profession. I’ve been caught on endless listserv threads about why there aren’t more women at a given organization and why more women don’t apply for certain types of positions.

German researchers found that something as simple as how the job description is written in the listing can affect the types of candidates companies attract.

The AuBeF├╝hr Project found that if they showed test candidates fictional job descriptions, there was a difference in which ones the women wanted to apply to. Women seemed to be more attracted to job descriptions containing the words “dedicated,” “responsible,” “conscientious,” and “sociable” while they were less attracted to job descriptions containing the words: “assertive,” “independent,” “aggressive,” and “analytical.”

Male test subjects, the researchers say, reacted no differently to the differing job descriptions.

It’s a strange lesson, but one that we’ve heard over and over again. It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Something job description writers might be wise to keep in mind the next time the start typing.

Photo: Shutterstock/racorn

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