LinkedIn report finds genders react differently to words used in job ads

Under half of UK talent professionals never consider gender whilst writing job adverts, despite research showing men and women react differently to certain words used in them.

This is according to LinkedIn’s report, Language Matters, which found that 40 per cent of UK talent professionals never contemplate gender when writing job adverts. As well as 44 per cent not tracking or measuring which gender their jobs are appealing to.

When looking at certain words used, more than half (52 per cent) of women lose interest in a role when the word ‘aggressive’ is used, compared to only 32 per cent of men. Still, over 50,000 job descriptions on LinkedIn currently include the word ‘aggressive’.

Just under a quarter (24 per cent) of women would be put off by the term ‘born leader’, compared to 18 per cent of men, also 26 per cent of women dislike the word ‘demanding’ compared to 17 per cent of men.

Both genders rank salary to be the top priority, however, 61 per cent of women see terms as annual leave to be important compared to 48 per cent of men in job adverts. Also, 54 per cent of women see flexible working as important in contrast to 37 per cent of men.

This is also extended to how both genders describe themselves at the office, as 40 per cent of women in the UK would say they are ‘supportive’ compared to 24 per cent of men. Just over a third (34 per cent) said they are ‘fair’ compared to 25 per cent of men and 30 per cent said they are ‘nice’ compared to 19 per cent of men. This is backed up by the fact 59 per cent of women would most associate women with ‘softer skills’. 

There also is a disagreement between what words can be used in the office as 54 per cent of male colleagues think using the word ‘guys’ is acceptable with only 45 per cent of women agreeing.

If a male colleague were to talk over a woman at a meeting, 31 per cent of female workers would describe him as ‘condescending’ with only 17 per cent of men would agree.

Janine Chamberlin, director, talent solutions at LinkedIn UK said:

This research highlights just how important it is to understand the nuances in how men and women interact in both the hiring process and the workplace. In today’s competitive job landscape – with unemployment at its lowest level for decades – talent professionals need to be deliberate with the words they are using in job adverts, interviews, social media and in the workplace itself if they wish to attract, build and retain diverse teams.

Rosie Campbell, professor of politics and director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London said:

Getting the wording of an advert right can be key for attracting the right candidate. Previous experiments have demonstrated that the use of certain types of masculine coded language reduces the likelihood that women will respond to advertisements. While analysis of LinkedIn data elsewhere suggests that the use of gender-skewed language has decreased over-time, unfortunately it is relatively more common as the positions advertised rise in seniority.

Interested in implementing inclusivity and diversity within the workplace? We recommend Unconscious Bias in the Workplace





Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.