People tend to picture a specific gender
Doesn't resonate with
- Everyone who identifies as a woman
- People in the LGBTQIA+ community
- People in occupations and roles historically dominated by another gender
- People with an ancestal or cultural background that is not white
Research suggests that we develop gender stereotypes about occupations at a very early age. Evidence of this bias appears in the speech of children as young as 3 years old. It influences whether we can picture our grown-up self in a particular job and thus our career choices. And it affects how we read job titles, not as reference to an advertised role but as an expression of the level of inclusiveness of a company’s culture. How job titles are phrased subtly influences our perception of anticipated career prospects as well as our sense of belonging. They can signal how open a company is to gender-inclusive promotion practices, how much prestige it attaches to a position, and whether it values diverse perspectives and workplace flexibility. Findings suggest that stereotypically male job titles may lead women to assume the company employs more men than women and that women would not be a good fit for that position. In short, they make a job look less appealing to them.
Replacing gender-coded titles with more gender-neutral options across the organization can be a powerful signal. It communicates to staff and potential candidates that a company is serious about promoting diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging. And it shows awareness of and the willingness to address the organization-level mechanisms that reinforce and maintain existing inequalities at work.
- Hidden but Widespread Gender Biases Emerge in Millions of Words (Tessa Charlesworth)
- Language influences mass opinion toward gender and LGBT equality (Margit Tavits and Efrén O. Pérez)
- The subtle ways language shapes us (Nayantara Dutta)
- Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality (Danielle Gaucher, Justin Friesen, and Aaron C. Key)
- Sexist Job Titles and the Influence of Language on Gender Stereotypes (Sylvia Cutler)