Just 5% of job ads are completely gender neutral in their wording, according to a study by an employee brand agency.
Chatter Communications looked at 230 adverts posted by companies in the FTSE 100. These covered a range of roles from engineering analysts to bankers and LGV drivers.
More than half (51%) of those posted were found to have strongly feminine language and 10% strongly masculine language.
Roles with higher levels of feminine language often fell into the categories of administration, retail, customer service and finance, the company said. In these roles, 73% were strongly feminine.
Job ads that were strongly masculine in wording, on the other hand, were more likely to be in areas such as science, product development, sponsorship/marketing, technology and data.
Examples of more feminine words include compassion, cooperate, interpersonal, loyal and pleasant, according to Chatter. More masculine terms include active, adventurous, assertive, self-confident and self-sufficient.
Of the 230 ads the company analysed, just two were classed as being easy to read. Fifty-five percent were classed as very difficult to read, meaning someone would need a degree-level of education to fully understand them.
These ads were not just in graduate roles – Chatter found that many ads classed as hard to understand were in positions for production line workers or retail assistants.
Paul Ainley, Chatter’s managing director, said gender-biased language could unwittingly turn off potential candidates.
“They may not be able to put into words why the role didn’t appeal, but studies show that subconsciously they may automatically feel it isn’t one for them. If the reading level needed to understand the advert fully is more difficult than the job role requires, it can easily become a huge barrier to applications,” he said.
“A few simple changes can make a big difference. It’s about being aware of and avoiding gendered language unless it’s really essential, and using simpler words and shorter sentences. It can’t be a one size fits all – the language used will vary dramatically depending on the role you’re advertising for.”