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Is there bias in job descriptions? Google believes there is!

By May 13, 2019 No Comments

The words we use matter. They will either attract or detract women to a job through job descriptions. Thinknum Media recently activated a “gender decoder” and used it to analyze job descriptions. These job descriptions were posted from Google’s various companies. Thinknum Media wanted to know if the job descriptions attracted female candidates. The findings showed that some of the companies were doing a good job and others were not.

Thinknum Media based their gender decoder on a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology* by a group of social scientists. The research found that gendered wording in job ad exists and therefore can sustain gender inequality. The results also showed that words can potentially shape the gender balance of who applies to open jobs. More importantly, the research showed that job ads written with more masculine language were less appealing to women compared to when the identical job was described using less male leaning language.

A step forward for women

This is a major step forward for women when companies like Google recognize that more needs to be done to solve for gender bias. A great starting point is to improve job description. There are a few providers of this type of technology, including TalVista. Withing their Recruiting Suite they offer job description optimization to help companies make conscious inclusion decisions based on scientific research. TalVista based its initial technology on Dr. Kay’s paper. TalVista’s own social scientists have continued researching to identify other problematic words to broaden the scope of diversity beyond just gender.

“My colleagues and I set out to test whether gender bias exists in job advertisements, and if does, could it be a contributor to gender inequality,” said Aaron C. Kay, PhD. “Our research is foundational to the work that Google and other technology providers like TalVista have done to help companies equalize the language used in job adverts.” Dr. Kay went on to say, “it is thrilling to see a company like TalVista attempt to apply and expand this research with cutting-edge technology.” Based on scientific research, TalVista is one of the only offerings to help companies enlarge the diversity within the talent pool to include not only for gender but also for race, ethnicity, and ability.

TalVista Recruiting Suite – Job Descriptions and Blind Resume Screening

TalVista’s Job Description optimizer is only one of the tools in its Recruiting Suite. Adding more inclusive language is only the tip of the iceberg to improve diversity in the talent pool.  Included in the Recruiting Suite is a blind resume review module. This module redacts names, schools, headshots, and even previous companies from a digital copy of the original resume. These resume attributes can impact how we perceive a candidate.

Attracting a more diverse pool of candidates is a great first step with an optimized job descriptions. Unless the next step is taken, conducting a blind resume screen, diverse candidates are less likely to progress through the hiring funnel. Recruiters and Hiring Managers have a high percentage of success determining a candidate’s gender, race, or even ethnicity when they read candidate names in the resume. 

This isn’t a good thing when a company wants to improve diversity hiring. Blind resume screening assists hiring managers in making more consciously inclusive decisions. Since personal information is redacted from the candidate’s resume they spend more time reviewing experience and skills. Hiring managers stay focused on candidate KSAs rather than being focused on the candidate’s name or seeing the school they attended and assuming a gender, race or ethnicity and reverting to an unconscious bias decision.

Learn More

To learn more about how TalVista can equalize the language in your job descriptions and level the field for diverse candidates during the resume screen process contact us at info@talvista.com We’re here to support your organization with conscious inclusion decision making.

*Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality” (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, July 2011, Vol 101(1), p109-28) by Danielle Gaucher, Justin Friesen, and Aaron C. Kay