SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Zakia Bouachraoui, Roger Strukhoff, David Linthicum

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TechBrain Finds Evidence of Gendered Language Bias in IT Industry Job Ads – and Pledges Action

TechBrain, a Perth-based IT support services company, today released a report on the use of gendered language in tech industry job ads. The study found evidence of a possible bias towards language that appeals more to men – especially in higher paid roles. The firm commissioned a study of 1,940 job ads posted online over the course of one week in June and counted the frequency in which gendered words in those ads appeared.

Recent studies media reports have highlighted how the use of certain words in a job ad can have a big effect on the numbers of men or women who apply for the position. As an operator in the heavily male-dominated IT industry, TechBrain wanted to assess how important this issue was and chose to study language used in tech industry ads.

The company commissioned an independent researcher to process the ads through an online tool which counts the frequency of ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ words in an advert, with 50 keywords which research suggests appeal to each gender. Words in ads that appeal to men include language like ‘active’, ‘fearless’ and ‘independent’, while words that appeal to women in job ads include ‘co-operate’, ‘empathise’ and ‘interdependent’.

The research revealed:

  • There were actually 15% more feminine words used in IT industry ads than masculine words
  • However, by far the most common ‘female’ word found was ‘support’ (appearing 1,668 times), which may have skewed the results. ‘Support’ is used frequently in IT job ads and often refers to a technical activity, rather than expectations about the applicant’s personal and professional qualities
  • If the word ‘support’ was removed, the findings did in fact show that there are more ‘masculine’ words used in IT job ads
  • Most significantly, the research revealed that for more highly paid jobs, the number of ‘masculine’ words increases, whereas for less well-paid jobs, there were more ‘female’ words

Mike Fernando, General Manager at TechBrain says:

“While no one is saying that the only reason that there are more men than women working in tech is because of gendered language in job ads, our study does suggest that it is a factor. If perfectly qualified women see job ads which are full of ‘masculine’ words, they may not identify with the role and see themselves working for that employer - and that means they may choose not to apply”.

TechBrain have pledged to provide its Human Resources partner, Requisite HR, a 16.4% increase in recruitment budget to assist them in finding a suitably-qualified female candidate for their next role. TechBrain chose this figure to draw attention to the fact that the gender pay gap in Australia is 16.4%.

Mike Fernando explained:

“Actions speak louder than words. As our study showed, higher paid IT jobs are advertised in a way that appeals more to men than women. So we want to ensure that we write all our ads in future to be more neutral, to increase the likelihood of finding the best hire - be they male or female. And, we’d challenge other IT industry players to do the same.”.

The full report and analysis is available online at the following address: https://www.techbrain.com.au/women-in-tech

-ENDS-

About TechBrain

Founded in 2002, TechBrain is Australia’s most trusted SME IT Support business based on a net promoter score of 86. TechBrain is a leading provider of innovative IT support, IT security, cloud computing, data backup, disaster recovery and IT managed services solutions to corporate, nonprofit and local government organisations with between 10 and 200 people.

Link to report:

Full access to the report can be found via the following link: https://www.techbrain.com.au/women-in-tech

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