Written by Sophie Borthwick

Gender bias in recruiting is still an issue today. Although there has been a steady reduction in the gender pay gap, there is still a long way to go. So what are some of the stereotypes and biases women face?

What stereotypes do women face?

There are many elements affecting recruitment, including conscious and unconscious bias and stereotypes that women are experiencing. Understanding and recognising these are important steps in re-evaluating the recruitment process. 

So what are these stereotypes? For a long time, it has been deemed that the perfect employee would be committed, be able to sacrifice personal responsibilities and devote as many hours as necessary to their role. Masculine and feminine traits, male and female-dominated industries, motherhood, concerns over maternity leave, young children and caring responsibilities to name a few. Although some of this is still true to this day (for example commitment), the way employees work and the expectations of companies have changed. Of course, not all of these stereotypes apply to every woman but they are still influencing who companies hire.

How are women applying for jobs?

“Men apply for a job when they meet 60% of the requirements, but women only apply if they meet 100% of them”. (Hewlett Packard, 2018-19)

Although this is a speculative comment made by a senior official in a Hewlett Packard internal report, this alongside other research has shown that women apply for jobs differently than men. A Linkedin study has highlighted that while men and women initially carry out the same research into the role and the company culture, women seem to be more hesitant when applying for jobs- applying to 20% fewer jobs than men, based on a LinkedIn Report in 2019. This is due to numerous factors such as ‘laundry lists’ of requirements, gendered language and the psychology around risk-taking. However, we are seeing a change. Many women are now retraining and growing their skills, to give them greater chances and more confidence in their abilities, and companies are now more aware of stereotypes and are viewing their job adverts.

 How can businesses reduce gender bias in recruitment?

There are many ways to update the recruitment process to increase anonymity and fairness within the system. Some of these changes can be expensive for smaller businesses, however, there are ways that are cost-effective and beneficial to the company, employees and future generations:

  • Review job role requirements and only list essential requirements.
  • Be conscientious about the language and tone used throughout the recruitment process. Using gender-neutral language will increase fairness for both men and women.
  • Introduce anonymity. This can be done through blind CVs or the introduction of AI and technology. Blind CVs reduce favouritism and discrimination based on identity and education (Russel Group Universities etc.)
  • Scoring systems and work sample questions in interviews and assessments. Changing from traditional interview questions, giving more scenario-based questions.
  • Interviewing in rounds and having a diverse representation of employees within the interview stage.
  • Track gender diversity within the company and introduce policies that will increase a diverse talent pool.
  • Showcase your diversity, not just state it but you have to give an accurate representation of your company.
  • Hire on potential, not experience and skill set. Skills can be learnt but passion and potential vary based on the individual.
  • Highlight efforts to retrain, support and network across your company.

Gender bias is still an issue of today and needs to be recognised as one. Changes need to be implemented and the recruitment process updated, but things are starting to look positive. As steps are being taken barriers are being broken. You can be a part of this process.

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