3 Ways Your Company’s Job Listings Are Keeping Women From Applying

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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
May 18, 2024 at 5:25PM UTC
Want to attract more female talent to work for your company, but not quite sure why they're not applying? You may already be aware of what women want in the workforce, but you might be blind to your own subconscious biases that are leaking into your job listings.
Recently, the Wharton Social Impact Initiative released research suggesting what exactly it takes to attract and retain women in the workplace. In the report, "Four for Women: A Framework for Evaluating Companies’ Impact on the Women They Employ," the researchers indicate four major facets of the workplace that largely induce success and overall happiness for working women: representation, fair pay, a healthy environment and job satisfaction.
Research also tells us that women are privy to some benefits over others, such as flexible work options, paid sick leave and professional development opportunities.
But if you're promising all of that, then why aren't women applying for your openings? Here are three major ways your listings are pushing women away.

1. Your job description is missing too many specific details.

If your job description is missing key details, it tells women that you're not quite sure what you're really looking for — and that's even less ideal for women than men. That's because many women have already faced notoriously vague performance reviews in their current or former positions, with little constructive feedback (especially compared to the feedback that their male colleagues receive, on average). In 2016, for example, research out of Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research’s found that, across three high-tech companies and one professional-services firm, feedback to men was full of granular detail and actionable advice, while feedback to women was uselessly vague. 
So having a job description with specific requirements and skills that will be clearly assessable is important for them.

2. Your listing earning potential range is too wide.

Despite the headway women have made in the workplace, the gender pay gap is rife. In 2016, women who worked full time in the United States were typically paid just 80 percent of what men were paid — that equates to a pay gap of 20 percent
In fact, according to the latest study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the whole "80 cents on the dollar" figure that's usually cited is actually a major overestimation for many women. Many minority women earn just 49 cents on a white man’s dollar, while white women earn about 79 cents per dollar compared with white men, on average. In other words: Women want fair pay. And if they see a job listing that ranges from $40,000/year to $100,000/year, knowing that the industry standard is somewhere around $75,000/year but most men in the industry earn closer to six figures, they won't necessarily want to even entertain a job that might pay them that much less.

3. Your listing is riddled with sketchy phrases.

If your listing is calling for someone who "must be willing to wear many hats" or "must be able to handle highly stressful environments," it may be an indicator for some women that a) you don't value people's outlined job descriptions and are going to expect more of them without compensating them for it and b) you don't respect work-life balance.
Of course, a professional will need to be able to be adaptable and work well under pressure, but warning women of that with these kinds of phrases can come off the wrong way. This is especially true because all too many women are already plagued by "mother-manager syndrome," wearing so many hats that they find themselves fetching coffee and planning the office outings when they've got actual work to do — but it's expected of them and, therefore, challenging the norm by refusing to wear the "office mom hat" can be penalizing.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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