Gender biased language: what is it, and how am I doing it?

Writing a job description and advertisement sounds straight forward, right?  

You make sure all required and essential information is clear and concise. You include responsibilities, essential and desired skills, and a little bit about the company culture.  To stand out, maybe you have a unique format you prefer. 


You submit to your preferred job board and wait for the hundreds of supremely qualified and incredibly diverse candidates to swarm into your inbox.  

But what if the qualified hoards don’t swarm?  

There are multiple factors to consider when creating an attractive job description and advert, but Gender biased language could be the most pivotal. Gender biased language means to create pieces of copy which overtly speak to one gender through a targeted use of vocabulary. Although predominantly through specific words and phrases, you can also inadvertently create a gender bias within your copy by using certain formats, such as bullet points and check-lists.  

Okay, so if I don’t target a specific gender, am I avoiding gender bias? 

When we say, ‘gender biased language’, we don’t mean the act of specifying the preferred gender of your applicant within your job description. (Not that we should have to clarify, but you shouldn’t be listing certain genders as a requirement within your advertisement.) 

What we’re referring to is, usually, a totally subconscious issue and generally down to the personal creative preferences and, you guessed it, gender of the person writing the job advertisement.  

 So in a nutshell, gender biased language goes far deeper than outwardly specifying gender within your copy.  

How am I supposed to avoid gender biased language if it’s subconscious? 

As we have discovered, it’s natural that job descriptions written in-house, by the team supervisor or HR manager, will reflect the personal priorities and language style of the author. 

When creating a job description, hash out your first ‘technical’ draft, the version which holds all the essential information about the role and personal specification.  Once you have this draft, look at the below criteria and see where you have made subconscious gendered word choices.  

  •  Avoid overusing gender-charged words, descriptors that are traditionally associated with male traits, such as assess and control, versus female focused words such as collaborate and suggest. We know it’s hard to totally avoid these words, so try to work to a 50/50 balance to open your job ad to all.   
  • Are you using gendered terms within your job description? Terms such as ‘guru’, ‘rockstar’ and ‘superhero’ are all traditionally male orientated and may be putting on potential female candidates.  
  • Watch your pronouns! Avoid only stating ‘he’ or ‘she’ and change to he/she or ‘you’.  
  • Look at your supporting information. Does your general employee support statement included family focused benefits, such as school drop off flexibility and inclusive maternity/ paternity care?  


Makes sense, but that’s A LOT of work for one job description!  

We get it, the hiring process is intensive on a surface level, without digging deeper into the psychology of your messaging. That’s why we offer a job description/ advertisement analysis service.  

Using advanced AI software, we analyse descriptions and ads and identify gender bias, inclusive and diverse language, content, readability, and SEO optimisation. Alongside a full findings report, you’ll also receive specific recommendations and examples to improve the job description.  

 Did we mention, this is all free? 

All you have to do is fill in the details below to get started, and we’ll get a report back to you in a few days. 

To understand more about the current state of your job descriptions and find out how to attract a more diverse pool of candidates, submit your description or advertisement to receive your free, no obligation report.