Tech industry named least sexist sector in the UK job market

Masculine language is heavily used to advertise sales and consultancy roles, as a new study reveals the sexist terms used in job descriptions.

A surprising number of job ads still use gender-biased language in the quest for perfect candidates, but some industries are bucking the trend. The technology industry was amongst the least biased or sexist of all UK sectors, finds new research by job search engine Adzuna.

The finance and travel sectors also proved themselves more immune to sexist language than many others.

The research was conducted in March 2017, and analysed a selection of traditionally masculine and feminine words across more than one million live job ads on Adzuna, observing the number of adverts in which each word appeared. The search covered 28 sectors and all 12 regions of the UK, to identify the industries most likely to appeal to applicants of each gender.

The research finds a high proportion of ‘male-dominated’ words in adverts for sales and consultancy positions, with words identified as masculine by the study, like ‘superior’ and ‘challenge’ appearing more often than the likes of ‘considerate’ and ‘understanding’.

Adverts for roles in teaching, social work and nursing, on the other hand, were found to be worded in a way that may appeal more to female candidates, with an emphasis on ‘compassion’, ‘warmth’ and soft skills.

Traits that pay

Ironically, greedy candidates are indeed first in line to make top dollar, with average salaries citing this trait topping the salary charts with average pay of over £60,000. Employees with principles, on the other had, command far less, with advertised salaries of £38,000.

The most popular of the ‘masculine’ words included ‘lead’ (410,748), ‘active’ (219,468) and ‘competitive’ (202,188); but ‘outspoken’ (42) and ‘stubborn’ (37) employees were less in demand.

Of the feminine words, ‘support’ (519,187 mentions), ‘responsive’ (483,428) and ‘understand’(241,741) occurred most frequently in job descriptions on the Adzuna website. Conversely, 241 employers sought gentle staff, 132 felt being affectionate would boost chances of job success and just 6 prized modesty in applicants.

Female candidates should cast their eyes East

Northern Ireland and London saw the largest concentration of job adverts geared towards male candidates.

Recruiters in the east of the country, on the other hand (including the North East, East and South Eastern regions) were more likely to appeal to female candidates, based on the language used in job ads in these areas.

Gender divide reopens at the top

Even for the sectors that appeal equally to both men and women, the research highlights a growing sexist gender divide as the roles became more senior and the salaries rise. In the tech industry, senior data scientists and data architect roles both proved exceptions to the neutral language used elsewhere in the sector.

Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, comments, ‘While the tech industry once again seems to be making great strides and disrupting traditional recruitment methods, some exceptions still exist. In the emerging world of data science. Our research showed both data scientist and data architect roles remain more appealing for the male of the species.

‘Unconscious bias may lead to accidental discrimination, but there is no excuse in 2017. It’s time for employers to head back to the drawing board and redesign their recruitment basics in order to keep up with the times!

‘Recent data from the ONS showed a 19 per cent pay gap persists between male employees and their female counterparts. Despite improvements, it is predicted this gap will not close for at least another 70 years. We need to do better.’

Further reading on sexist industries

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Freddie Halvorson

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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