How to eliminate gender-biased language from your job adverts

Your challenge is to find the best person for the job. Penning a short job advert should be a breeze, right? Wrong! Your choice of language could be dissuading some segments of the population from applying. While the HR community is fully aware of the issue, identifying gender-biased language can be tricky because of its subtlety. Words that seem innocuous are often rooted in societal conditioning.


According to research, popular recruiting adjectives such as ‘ambitious, assertive, decisive, determined and self-reliant’ are male-gendered and so can attract predominantly male applicants. Words like ‘committed, connect, interpersonal and responsible’ are considered female-gendered and may attract only women.


HR Magazine recommends that companies use neutral language in job titles and that they give equal weighting to male- and female-coded descriptors in job descriptions. The article argues that removing gender-biased adjectives is just part of the process. Employers need to also make sure that the requirements listed are actually necessary because women tend to apply for jobs only when they meet 100% of the criteria.


Seemingly, the best antidote to the issue is a combination of software that highlights gender-biased language and training on how to write a job spec that ‘flows’ correctly. While there are no silver bullets, this dual approach has been proven multiple times to increase the number of women applying for senior and traditionally male-dominant roles and industries.


Eliminating male- and female-biased language from job adverts is part of a wider discussion about debiasing the entire recruitment process. While many segments of society are put off by certain types of language, there are others who don’t even come to hear of positions if they’re only advertised using certain platforms, such as LinkedIn.


If you’d like any support ensuring that you access top talent regardless of gender, race, religion, political colour and sexual preferences, please get in touch. Based on over 30 years of experience in the field, we have profound expertise in recruiting without prejudice for the best person for the role. Please give us a call on +44 (0)20 7092 3939 or email us at to find out more.