Women are less likely seen as good candidates if the job mentions a high degree of intellectual ability, according to a new study.

In 3 tests, published in the journal American Psychologist, more than 1,150 participants were asked to refer individuals for a job. Half of the participants were told that the job description required high-level intellectual ability. The job description included phrases like:

  • “high IQ,”
  • “superior reasoning skills”
  • “natural intelligence”

Gender Bias of 25.3% Against Women

The other half of participants saw a job description that did not include those phrases:

The results?

Participants were less likely to refer a woman (43.5%) when the job description mentioned brilliance (than when it did not (50.8 percent).

The study reported:

“The odds of referring a woman (rather than a man) were 25.3 percent lower when the job description mentioned intellectual ability.”

Men AND Women Showed Bias Against Women

The study found that “…both women and men were less likely to refer females for these jobs than for the other jobs. That is, men and women showed comparable levels of gender bias.”

A separate study by the same team found that gender bias starts early. Children ages 5 to 7 picked boys over girls in games described as for “really, really smart children.”

Details about the Study:

For more tips on writing job descriptions, check out How to Write a Job Description — Best Practices & Examples.

Why I wrote this?

Ongig’s mission is to increase your quality hires through the best job pages in the world. If your job descriptions are gender-biased, you’re missing out on the highest quality candidates! Ongig analyzes all of your text for gender bias, other unconscious bias (including against underrepresented groups) and overall readability and effectiveness.

by in Writing Job Descriptions