The authors hypothesize that to women, masculine-themed words alerts them to the possibility that they will not fit or do not belong. To test this hypothesis, the researchers used 96 randomly selected job seekers to read different job descriptions, each constructed with masculine-themed words or feminine-themed words. For example, the masculinity worded advertisement for a registered nurse stated “We are determined to deliver superior medical treatment tailored to each individualpatient,” whereas the femininely worded advertisement for the same registered nurse position stated, “We are committed to providing top quality health care that is sympathetic to the needs of our patients.” After reading each job description, the job seekers rated each on job appeal and sense of belongingness.
Example of feminine and masculine-themed words used in a engineering job description:
Engineer Company Description:
- Feminine: We are a community of engineers who have effective relationshipswith many satisfied clients. We are committed to understanding the engineer sector intimately.
- Masculine: We are a dominant engineering firm that boasts many leadingclients. We are determined to stand apart from the competition.
- Feminine: Proficient oral and written communications skills. Collaborates well in a team environment. Sensitive to clients’ needs, can develop warmclient relationships.
- Masculine: Strong communication and influencing skills. Ability to perform individually in a competitive environment. Superior ability to satisfycustomers and manage company’s association with them.
- Feminine: Provide general support to project team in a mannercomplimentary to the company. Help clients with construction activities.
- Masculine: Direct project groups to manage project progress and ensureaccurate task control. Determine compliance with client’s objectives.
Not surprisingly, the results showed that women found that jobs with masculinity worded job descriptions less appealing, compared with the same types of jobs which used feminine wording across all job types — whether they were male or female dominated occupations — even though these gender words composed a small fraction of the total words in the job advertisement.