Senior executive positions are being advertised using less inclusive language than junior roles, which could be deterring women from applying.
This is according to management consultancy Sia Partners, which analysed the language in almost 100,000 job adverts in the UK over the past six months.
The study found that the language used was more inclusive in adverts for junior positions, but job descriptions for most senior roles used more “masculine coded” language. This finding was consistent across 10 of the 11 sectors it analysed – real estate being the only exception.
Sia Partners said that job ads using mostly masculine words mainly appealed to male candidates, while feminine words were appealing to both genders.
“We know women are struggling to reach higher ranks. Business leaders need to work on bias – conscious or unconscious – in these senior roles,” said Irene Molodtsov, chief executive of Sia Partners UK.
“Women are falling out of careers between the ages of 33 and 40. We need to put structural changes in place to encourage gender parity in business and to enable women to continue to climb the ladder to those senior positions or to get a seat in the boardroom.”
Molodtsov claimed that men are more likely to apply for a job for which they are unqualified than women.
Last year insurance company Zurich said it had seen the number of women applying for senior roles increase by a fifth after it adopted “gender-neutral” language and promoted flexible working opportunities in its job adverts.
A separate study by the Gender and Behavioural Insights programme found that job adverts that mentioned flexible working when posted on Indeed attracted 30% more applications than those that did not.