Gender bias is a tricky thing. Especially in recruitment, where it can lead to unfairly ignoring the best potential candidates. We’re talking about female candidates here, because gender bias mostly affects women. And not just women in certain industries, but all women. In most jobs, it’s harder for a woman to get an interview or be hired. This applies even when the recruiter is a woman too. Female employees who are pregnant or have young children are less likely to be promoted or receive bonuses. Sometimes they even feel pressured to take a step back. Their employers believe that they are less committed because they will soon be mothers. This is an assumption men never have to deal with.
What is gender bias?
A bias is something that comes naturally to us. Remaining impartial is something our brains find difficult to do. We are programmed to automatically make associations between two concepts. This allows us to process information quickly. Something we automatically do is categorize people based on things like gender, age and skin color. We then associate the categorizations with a number of assumptions. For example, some assumptions affecting women are:
- Women are more emotional than men, so they are less fit for decision-making roles.
- Women who paint their nails and wear make-up and high heels are less good with money.
- Women are less motivated and committed once they start a family.
These assumptions have an undesirable effect on the recruitment process and prevent recruiters from acting in their best interests. The problem is our brain and its natural tendency to hold stereotypes and rely on them. It’s the unconscious gender bias that both male and female recruiters hold. And that stands in the way of building and retaining a diverse workforce.
The effect of gender on an organization
Gender bias is a very problematic unconscious bias. For starters, men and women should get equal chances in life. That is what’s fair. Secondly, as an organization with a biased recruitment process, you miss out on a lot of talented employees. Women that might be the perfect fit for the job end up being ignored because of their gender. On top of that, having a workforce with few women can also damage your company’s reputation. Like most organizations, you probably wish to be very diverse and inclusive. Gender bias is a big obstacle to becoming so.
How do you overcome unconscious gender bias?
Gender bias has no place in the workplace. Still, women in all industries and across all countries have to deal with the consequences of this bias. Like all other forms of discrimination, gender bias needs to become a thing of the past. Especially if you wish to become a more diverse and inclusive company.
Overcoming unconscious gender bias is not easy. But it’s not impossible, either. There are training programs managers and recruiters can follow. They help people acknowledge that gender bias exists. And teach people how to be aware of prejudices and deal with them accordingly.
Another approach you can take to battle gender bias is using the Textmetrics platform.
You can use our platform to eliminate bias from your job descriptions. Because the problem isn’t just recruiters not hiring women or inviting them for an interview. A lot of women don’t apply because the job ad has a masculine tone of voice. This discourages women from even trying to get the job.
The Textmetrics platform analyzes your job descriptions and gives you suggestions for a more gender-neutral tone of voice. It also gives you options for words that appeal to both men and women. So you’ll end up with job ads that appeal to both genders. It’s an important first step towards hiring more women and having a more diverse workforce.
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