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Business Plan

Reworking your job descriptions

Subtle word choices can have a strong impact on the application pool; Research shows that masculine language, including adjectives like “competitive” and “determined,” results in women’s “perceiving that they would not belong in the work environment.” On the other hand, words like “collaborative” and “cooperative” tend to draw more women than men.

- Use gender neutral posting titles, e.g., “Chairperson” instead of “Chairman”
- Avoid exclusionary words, e.g., “legacy plan” instead of “grandfathered plan”

Some words play to female and male stereotypes. Male-sounding words may discourage women from applying. Female-sounding words may discourage men from applying.

It is okay to use some of the words identified as male leaning or female leaning but try to find balance by using neutral language when possible.

Remember, the job posting description is communicating the specific skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to do a particular job. Take care not to change the meaning of a job attribute when choosing alternative words. (Reproduced from MIT HR)

Access the following free tools:

- Use ADA Compliant Language (
- Gender Decoder (
- eploy (
- Applied Text Analysis (

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