World

One in two women put off by macho language in job ads: UK study

LONDON : Biased language in some job adverts in Britain deters as many as one in two women from applying, a study has found amid a push to attract more women to male-dominated sectors.

Openreach, which operates most of the country's broadband network, found that women's interest in applying for an engineering job increased by more than 200 per cent when changes were made to language in an advert.

The company asked 2,000 women about two different adverts for the same job, and found they were put off by macho phrases like "being on the road in your van" and "getting your hands dirty" and mention of climbing a telegraph pole.

"We were amazed to see just how much of a difference language makes," said Mr Kevin Brady, human resources director for Openreach, which is seeking to recruit women for 500 out of 2,500 new engineering jobs this year - 10 times historic levels.

"We hope this will be the catalyst for helping to break down barriers stopping women from considering a role in engineering."

REPHRASED

While 80 per cent of women said they would not consider working in engineering, 56 per cent were interested in the job once the advert had been rephrased, including replacing the word "engineer" with "network coordinator".

The new advert also listed skills in more neutral language, stipulating that applicants should not be afraid of heights and be good at getting things done.

With a quarter of respondents, who were aged 18 to 55, saying they still believed certain roles were more suited to men, the researchers said the findings had implications for many other industries.

Lawmaker Caroline Nokes, chairwoman of the UK Parliament's women and equalities committee, said encouraging more women into engineering had been a battle for decades.

"This study takes a big step towards removing barriers which would stop women even considering roles they are well capable of doing," she said.

The study, carried out with linguistic specialists Linguistic Landscapes, also showed 55 per cent of respondents were possibly considering a new career because of the pandemic.

"There has never been a more important time to tear down barriers to recruitment and open up previously closed sectors," Openreach's Brady said. - REUTERS

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