Analytics Suggest Gender Bias in Job Postings

In March, Kieran Snyder, CEO of machine-learning firm Textio, published a piece in Fortune that teased out the stark differences in how men and women write resumes.

By using her company’s software to analyze 1,100 tech-industry resumes (512 from men, 588 from women), Snyder found that women tend to write longer resumes, go into more detail about professional experiences, and include more information about their personal lives than their male colleagues. “If you want top talent, you need to recognize different resume communications styles and the skill sets behind them,” she wrote at the time.

In a subsequent blog posting on Textio’s website, Snyder dug a bit more into the gender disparities underlying the typical tech-world job-hunt. In short, it’s not just resumes: How companies write job postings may affect the number of men and women who ultimately apply for a particular position. (As research, Snyder analyzed job postings from thousands of companies.)

“Across industries, job listings that use bulleted lists for one third of their content are the most popular with both men and women,” she wrote. “While using bullets for a third of the job listing works best for everyone, the impact of including more or less than that ideal amount varies by gender.” Using bullet-points for more than a third of the listing, her analysis revealed, tends to attract male applicants, while fewer bullet-points pull in women.

“The ideal is the same for both genders, but near the edges of the ideal range, men’s and women’s preferences differ,” she added. “And it’s striking that their preferences align with how they represent themselves in their own resumes: men gravitate more to bulleted lists of facts, and women gravitate more to narrative prose.”

Words in job postings may also promote gender bias, according to Snyder; using “ninja” to describe a developer is more likely to draw in male applicants, for instance. But as demonstrated by her analysis of bullet-points, bias can also take a more structural form.

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Image: Textio

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