Certain words in job ads stop women applying

Using the word “manage” in a job ad could be enough to stop women applying, according to research reported by the BBC.

The findings, which would be completely patronising if they weren’t based on hard data, said that the word “manage” encourages more men than women to apply for a role, and that changing it to “develop” would make the ad more female-friendly.

The research was carried out by Textio, an “augmented writing software” company. According to the BBC, Textio uses AI to analyse job descriptions in real time, highlighting any terms that could come across as particularly masculine or feminine. Helpfully, it then suggests alternatives.

The software has its limits – while it highlights issues, it can’t explain why certain words perform as they do.

Here are a few more examples:


  • The word stakeholder “serves as a signal to people of colour that their contributions may not be valued”
  • “Competitive” and “leader” are associated with male stereotypes
  • “Support” and “interpersonal” are associated with female stereotypes

I’ll stop there, as it also says that women aren’t fans of lengthy bullet points. If you’d like to know more, check out the full report on the BBC, orĀ Textio’s website.

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