Changing the Language in Job Ads Could Help Bring More Women Into Tech


Using gendered words or phrases can be exclusionary.

Over 90 companies, including HP, Accenture, Cisco, and Dell, have signed up to a collective Tech Talent Charter, which aims to promote greater gender diversity in the UK’s tech workforce. The charter, which has also received funding from the British government, pledges to bring companies together to address the industry’s diversity problem—only 17% of tech and telecom workers in Britain are women.

To that end, charter members promise to make tangible changes in how they recruit, retrain, and retain women, by liaising with other firms and getting help from non-profit organizations like Code First Girls.

One simple but effective way to attract more women to tech jobs is to change the language in job ads. Monster, one of the largest employment websites in the world, is a member of the charter and says that rethinking how way tech job ads are written can help address gender inequality in the industry.

For example, using gendered words or phrases can be exclusionary, “such as being a ‘coding ninja,’ or sports analogies,” says Sinead Bunting, marketing director for the UK and Ireland at Monster and writer of the tech charter. “On top of that, using phrases like ‘we work hard, play hard,’ can be off-putting to women with families, so tweaks to the language can make a big difference.” She adds that Monster will help develop guidelines for companies that sign up to the charter about how to craft more inclusive job ads.

Even more importantly, companies that sign the charter will be required to share their employment and diversity data to a central database that will be published every year. This is crucial for monitoring whether firms are taking meaningful steps bolster their talent pipelines.