If you’re using words such as ‘assertive’, ‘independent’ or ‘aggressive’ in job advertisements you could be alienating a key demographic from applying for the role.
The study from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) shows that women are less likely to apply for jobs that include words such as "assertive", "independent", "aggressive" and "analytical," opting instead for job postings that use words like "dedicated", "responsible", "conscientious" and "sociable." Men, however, were happy to apply for jobs in both categories.
The researchers showed 260 test subjects fictional employment ads. If the advertisement described a large number of traits associated with men, the women found it less appealing and were less inclined to apply.
“A carefully formulated job posting is essential to get the best choice of personnel,” explained head researcher and chair of the University’s Research and Science Management, Professor Claudis Peus. “In most cases, it doesn’t make sense to simply leave out all of the male-sounding phrases. But without a profile featuring at least balanced wording, organisations are robbing themselves of the chance of attracting good female applicants. And that’s because the stereotypes endure almost unchanged in spite of all of the societal transformation we have experienced.”
Key HR takeaway:
Consider whether you really need to use a word such as "aggressive”, perhaps another word like “persistent” would be more appropriate and less alienating