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When employers are crafting job ads, they might already have an idea of the type of individual they want to fill their position. But these preconceived notions can lead to a “form of bias that produces more male candidates or more female candidates.

Do you think you can spot gendered language? Check out some excerpts from real job listings below and see if you can tell if they are masculine- or feminine-coded.

  • An accounting company is looking for a staff accountant to join their ranks: “Our client, an exciting and fast-growing company, is looking to have a headstrong accounting driven individual join their team!”
    Masculine-coded
    Feminine-coded

    Here’s how everyone answered:

    Masculine-coded
    Feminine-coded

    88.4%

    11.6%

    You are correct! This ad is masculine-coded. It uses words such as headstrong, driven, and individual – all terms that are subtly masculine-coded.

    You are wrong. It uses words such as headstrong, driven, and individual – all terms that are subtly masculine-coded. It used no feminine-coded words.

  • A sales company is looking for someone to fill a senior manager position and they’re looking for someone who: "serves as a digital sales champion over an assigned regional geography, develops and manages strategy and go-to market for Digital and multi-platform revenue within assigned region, and assists with prospecting strategies in partnership with regional and Local Sales Managers and Account Executives.”
    Feminine-coded
    Masculine-coded

    Here’s how everyone answered:

    Feminine-coded
    Masculine-coded

    47.0%

    53.0%

    You are wrong. This job listing is masculine-coded. The term champion indicates the masculine-coding of the listing.

    You are correct! This job listing is masculine-coded. The term champion indicates the masculine-coding of the listing.

  • A health center is searching for a dental hygienist who: “Must have excellent chair side manner, be very gentle, be a team player, and have great communication skills.”
    Feminine-coded
    Masculine-coded

    Here’s how everyone answered:

    Feminine-coded
    Masculine-coded

    98.5%

    1.5%

    You are correct! This job listing is feminine-coded. Terms like gentle are associated with feminine-coding.

    You are wrong. This job listing is feminine-coded. Terms like gentle are associated with feminine-coding.

  • A video system company is looking for a salesperson: “If you are the right person for this opportunity, you would describe yourself as having the self-motivation, energy, and attitude to do anything it takes to keep our commitment to being our industry’s leader. Your style will be relaxed and self-confident. You would describe yourself as friendly and enthusiastic. You would be professional, persistent, conscientious, and methodical in your approach to work.”
    Feminine-coded
    Masculine-coded

    Here’s how everyone answered:

    Feminine-coded
    Masculine-coded

    45.4%

    54.6%

    You are wrong. Terms such as leader, self-confident and persistent are subtly coded as masculine. This listing, however, also uses terms such as commitment and enthusiastic, which are feminine-coded words.

    You are correct! This job listing is masculine coded. Terms such as leader, self-confident and persistent are often subtly coded as masculine. The listing however, also uses terms such as commitment and enthusiastic, which are feminine-coded words.

  • A private school is trying to hire a new preschool teacher: “We are looking for a warm and enthusiastic preschool teacher to join our campus immediately … [and] are looking for an experienced teacher who can deliver an academic program in a fun and dynamic way.”
    Feminine-coded
    Masculine-coded

    Here’s how everyone answered:

    Feminine-coded
    Masculine-coded

    97.0%

    3.0%

    You are correct! This job ad lists words such as warm and enthusiastic, which are feminine-coded words. It used no masculine-coded words.

    You are wrong. This job ad lists words such as warm and enthusiastic, which are feminine-coded words. It used no masculine-coded words.

  • A mental health organization is looking for a receptionist: “Successful candidates will demonstrate that they are professional, emotionally mature, reliable, very warm, friendly, polished and empathic.”
    Masculine-coded
    Feminine-coded

    Here’s how everyone answered:

    Masculine-coded
    Feminine-coded

    6.7%

    93.3%

    You are wrong. This ad is feminine-coded. It uses terms such as emotionally, warm, and empathic – all of which are subtly feminine-coded.

    You are correct! This ad is feminine-coded. It uses terms such as emotionally, warm, and empathic – all of which are subtly feminine-coded.

Take the quiz

Company names have been removed for anonymity purposes. Results for this quiz are based on the Gender Decoder for Job Ads, a linguistics based tool inspired by “Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality" from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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