Article

Decoding bias: Gendered language in finance internship job postings

Authors:
  • Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary’s University
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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to evaluate the language content of job postings as a potential explanation for the gender imbalance in the finance industry. We conduct two interlinked studies of internship job postings by finance companies that assess the use and effects of agentic (e.g., ambitious) versus communal (e.g., caring) language. We find high levels of agentic language within finance job postings, and our results reveal that women applicants are more likely to perceive a higher level of fit with the position and exhibit an interest in applying to internship postings that are high in communal language and low in agentic language suggesting a current mismatch between our findings and current practice. We discuss the theoretical implications associated with the wording of internship job postings as well as implications for finance recruiters looking to increase the gender diversity of their workforce.

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... Gender effects have been examined in a wide range of contexts including communication [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]. Past studies demonstrated that gendered content of advertisements, including wording and endorser's gender, may often influence responses to communication among men and women in a different way [11][12][13][14]. Whilst the impact of communication on behaviour is disputed, policy makers, practitioners and advertisers continue using communication to raise awareness and influence behaviours. ...
... Whilst endorser's gender and gender role portrayal have been investigated in numerous advertising contexts [e.g., [35][36][37], gendered wording has only been researched predominantly in the context of job ads [12,27]. Moreover, no studies so far examined gendered wording effectiveness in the context of the UK. ...
... Our findings stand in opposition to some past research which claimed that women are discouraged by agentic wording, albeit such findings relate to the context of job ads and in non-UK samples. For example, Oldford and Fiset [12] found women were more likely to apply for finance jobs when the advert featured communal wording and discouraged when the job advert contained agentic wording. ...
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Following mixed-methods sequential design and drawing on the message-audience congruence concept and homophily theory, across three studies in the UK, we examined the effect of gendered wording and endorser's gender on the effectiveness of leaflets promoting walking. In Study 1, a mall-intercept study achieved 247 completed questionnaires. Results demonstrated that men and women indicated the highest behavioural intentions for communal wording presented by a male endorser. However, pairwise comparisons revealed that when the wording of the advert was agentic and the endorser was male, males indicated significantly higher scores of behavioural intentions compared with females. Attitude towards the ad for women was highest for communal wording/female endorser; for men it was for agentic wording/male endorser. In Study 2, consumers' views towards the gendered content were explored in 20 semi-structured interviews. In study 3 we examined the impact of the respondent's gender role identity on gendered content effectiveness. Overall, when controlled for level of gender role identity, only masculine males evaluated leaflets featuring communal wording negatively which suggests that wording matters only for masculine males, but not for other men and women. Theoretically, we identified that gender-based message-respondent congruence is not a necessary aspect of communications to be effective, except for one group: masculine males. Our study identified dominant gender role identity as a factor that explained respondents' preferences for presented stimuli. Specifically, males who display masculine gender role identity differ in evaluations of communal wording from all other groups. Social and commercial marketers who target men and women with exercise-related services should consider the use of agentic wording endorsed by a male endorser when targeting masculine men to increase the likelihood of eliciting positive attitudes towards the communication. However, such distinctions should not be associated with differences in women's evaluations or men who do not report masculine gender role identity.
... Researchers have used language-focused analysis to evaluate the presence of gendered text across a range of job advertisements (e.g. Castilla & Rho, 2023;Ningrum, Pansombut, & Ueranantasun, 2020) and in specific fields, e.g., construction (Askehave & Zethsen, 2014), start-up funding (Kanze, Huang, Conley, & Higgins, 2018), finance internships (Oldford & Fiset, 2021), libraries (Tokarz & Mesfin, 2021), information technology (Breese, Conforti, & Peslak, 2020), psychology (Fatfouta, 2021), and leadership (Eichenauer, Ryan, & Alanis, 2022). This paper, therefore, aims to establish the possibility of systemic barriers in the PSM field by using a language-based research method to explore the extent of the gendered language across the hierarchical range of PSM advertisements. ...
... We limited our search to large companies (over 1,000 employees according to Glassdoor specifications), as large companies tend to have dedicated PSM teams spanning the hierarchical levels (see below). This figure is comparable to other research that used job advertisements as their sources of data in different contexts, such as 180 in logistics (Kovács, Tatham, & Larson, 2012), 150 in librarians (Clyde, 2002) and 381 in finance (Oldford & Fiset, 2021). We identified the hierarchy level for which the advertisement was posted, using the four levels discussed in Mulder, Wesselink, and Bruijstens (2005), along with an additional most senior PSM role: Assistant Buyer, Buyer, Senior Buyer, Purchasing Manager and Head of Purchasing/Procurement. ...
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This integrative review presents the Agentic–Communal Model of Advantage and Disadvantage to offer insight into the psychology of inequality. This model examines the relation between individuals’ position of advantage or disadvantage in a social hierarchy and their propensity toward agency and communion. We begin by identifying and reviewing four inequalities—Resources, Opportunities, Appraisals, and Deference, or the ROAD of inequality—that are fundamental to social advantage and disadvantage. We explain how these inequalities can instill a sense of advantage and disadvantage in individuals. Next, we discuss two core drivers of human behavior: agency and communion. We integrate these literatures to introduce the model's central propositions: a sense of advantage orients individuals toward agency and a sense of disadvantage orients individuals toward communion. We review evidence for this model across four distinct social hierarchies: power, social class, gender, and race. A number of findings suggest that higher-power individuals, higher-class individuals, men, and Whites express greater agency, whereas lower-power individuals, lower-class individuals, women, and minorities express greater communion. We also consider results in the literature that appear inconsistent with our propositions (i.e., when the advantaged are communal and the disadvantaged are agentic) and offer theoretical integrations to resolve these apparent contradictions. In particular, we highlight how the orthogonal nature of agency and communion can produce behavior that results from the combination of high agency and communion. To help motivate a future research agenda, we note the importance of both hierarchy salience and cultural considerations in determining individuals’ orientations toward agency and communion. Finally, we consider the implications of this model for the study of social hierarchy and inequality, as well as the consequences of rising inequality levels.
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We document significantly lower inflows in female-managed funds than in male-managed funds. This result is obtained with field data and with data from a laboratory experiment. We find no gender differences in performance. Thus, rational statistical discrimination is unlikely to explain the fund flow effect. We conduct an implicit association test and find that subjects with stronger gender bias according to this test invest significantly less in female-managed funds. Our results suggest that gender bias affects investment decisions and thus offer a new potential explanation for the low fraction of women in the mutual fund industry. The internet appendix is available at https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2017.2939 . This paper was accepted by Lauren Cohen, finance.
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“STEM parents” refers to parents who work in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics field. Using survey data from CFA Institute members, we show that parental careers differentially affect the future career choices of girls and boys. Among CFA Institute members, women are more likely to have a STEM parent (particularly a STEM mother) than men. Relative to the base rates at which girls and boys become CFA Institute members, STEM mothers increase the girls’ rate by 48% more than the boys’ rate; STEM fathers increase the girls’ rate 29% more than the boys’ rate. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that early role models, particularly female role models, influence women’s choice of a finance career.
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For millions of workers, online job listings provide the first point of contact to potential employers. As a result, job listings and their word choices can significantly affect the makeup of the responding applicant pool. Here, we study the effects of potentially gender-biased terminology in job listings, and their impact on job applicants, using a large historical corpus of 17 million listings on LinkedIn spanning 10 years. We develop algorithms to detect and quantify gender bias, validate them using external tools, and use them to quantify job listing bias over time. We then perform a user survey over two user populations (N1=469, N2=273) to validate our findings and to quantify the end-to-end impact of such bias on applicant decisions. Our findings show gender-bias has decreased significantly over the last 10 years. More surprisingly, we find that impact of gender bias in listings is dwarfed by our respondents' inherent bias towards specific job types.
Article
The goal congruity perspective provides a theoretical framework to understand how motivational processes influence and are influenced by social roles. In particular, we invoke this framework to understand communal goal processes as proximal motivators of decisions to engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). STEM fields are not perceived as affording communal opportunities to work with or help others, and understanding these perceived goal affordances can inform knowledge about differences between (a) STEM and other career pathways and (b) women's and men's choices. We review the patterning of gender disparities in STEM that leads to a focus on communal goal congruity (Part I), provide evidence for the foundational logic of the perspective (Part II), and explore the implications for research and policy (Part III). Understanding and transmitting the opportunities for communal goal pursuit within STEM can reap widespread benefits for broadening and deepening participation.
Book
Part I. From There to Here - Theoretical Background: 1. From visiousness to viciousness: theories of intergroup relations 2. Social dominance theory as a new synthesis Part II. Oppression and its Psycho-Ideological Elements: 3. The psychology of group dominance: social dominance orientation 4. Let's both agree that you're really stupid: the power of consensual ideology Part III. The Circle of Oppression - The Myriad Expressions of Institutional Discrimination: 5. You stay in your part of town and I'll stay in mine: discrimination in the housing and retail markets 6. They're just too lazy to work: discrimination in the labor market 7. They're just mentally and physically unfit: discrimination in education and health care 8. The more of 'them' in prison, the better: institutional terror, social control and the dynamics of the criminal justice system Part IV. Oppression as a Cooperative Game: 9. Social hierarchy and asymmetrical group behavior: social hierarchy and group difference in behavior 10. Sex and power: the intersecting political psychologies of patriarchy and empty-set hierarchy 11. Epilogue.
Article
Literature on diversity in organisations is limited and even fewer studies investigate its impact on innovation. Therefore, the aim of this research is to study how gender diversity within R&D teams, among other factors, impacts innovation, drawing on data from an innovation survey in Spain. Our findings support the assertion that gender diversity within R&D teams generates certain dynamics that foster novel solutions leading to radical innovation. The results indicate that gender diversity is positively related to radical innovation. However it does not promote incremental innovation in the same way. The positive relation occurs under particular conditions of the task (a higher degree of novelty), as the two types of innovation might require different skills for their effective performance. These results have several implications for academics, politicians and practitioners.
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The purpose of this article is to consider the gender imbalance at top management level from a discourse analytical perspective. More specifically, it investigates the language of 39 Danish top executive job advertisements and considers which leadership identities are projected as desirable or necessary. This is done by carrying out two interlinked studies: a semantic field analysis of the sections in the job advertisements describing the leadership traits of the ideal candidate (Study 1) and a study of MBA students' responses to extracts from the advertisements as far as gender is concerned (Study 2). Semantic field analysis reveals that all the job advertisements are gender-biased and that most traits described in the advertisements are associated with traditional or stereotypical masculine attributes. Study 2 confirms this finding, as respondents (MBA students) assign a masculine identity to the vast majority of the extracts from the job advertisements.
Article
The current work examines whether a brief exposure to a computer science role model who fits stereotypes of computer scientists has a lasting influence on women’s interest in the field. One-hundred undergraduate women who were not computer science majors met a female or male peer role model who embodied computer science stereotypes in appearance and stated interests or the same role model who did not embody these stereotypes. Participants and role models engaged in an interaction that lasted approximately 2 minutes. Interest in majoring in computer science was assessed following the interaction and 2 weeks later outside the laboratory. Results revealed that exposure to the stereotypical role model had both an immediate and an enduring negative effect on women’s interest in computer science. Differences in interest at both times were mediated by women’s reduced sense of belonging in computer science upon interacting with the stereotypical role model. Gender of the role model had no effect. Whether a potential role model conveys to women a sense of belonging in the field may matter more in recruiting women into computer science than gender of the role model. Long-term negative effects of exposure to computer scientists who fit current stereotypes in the media and elsewhere may help explain current gender disparities in computer science participation.
Article
Children's occupational interests and their perceptions of the divergent occupational successes of women and men reflect cultural gender norms. Since language is a vehicle for transporting gender cues and gender norms, we tested the premise that children's perceptions of stereotypically male jobs can be influenced by the linguistic form used to present an occupational title. Three experiments with 809 primary school students suggest that occupations presented in pair form (e.g., Ingenieurinnen und Ingenieure, female and male engineers), compared to descriptions using the generic masculine form (e.g., Ingenieure), generally increase the mental accessibility of female jobholders, promote more gender-balanced perceptions of the success of males and females, and strengthen girls' interest in stereotypically male occupations.
Article
The purpose of this paper is to establish the importance of distinguishing unmitigated agency and unmitigated communion from agency and communion. First, we examine the empirical overlap and distinctions among the four constructs. Then, we demonstrate the differential association of unmitigated agency, unmitigated communion, agency, and communion to relationship and health outcomes. We conclude that only unmitigated agency and unmitigated communion are associated with relationship difficulties and poor health. Finally, we distinguish between the difficulties of the unmitigated agency and the unmitigated communion individual by focusing on interpersonal problems.
Article
AN ESSAY ON THE PROBLEM OF ULTIMATE CONCERN, I.E., ON " "THAT WHICH DETERMINES OUR BEING OR NOT BEING . . . .' " IN THIS CONTEXT, 2 TERMS, AGENCY AND COMMUNION, ARE DEVELOPED "TO CHARACTERIZE 2 FUNDAMENTAL MODALITIES IN THE EXISTENCE OF LIVING FORMS, AGENCY FOR THE EXISTENCE OF AN ORGANISM AS AN INDIVIDUAL, AND COMMUNION FOR THE PARTICIPATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL IN SOME LARGER ORGANISM OF WHICH THE INDIVIDUAL IS A PART." THESE NOTIONS, AND THE PROBLEM OF ULTIMATE CONCERN, ARE DISCUSSED IN RELATION TO "SOCIAL ORGANIZATION, SCIENCE, IDEOLOGY, MYTH, SEXUALITY, DEATH, DISEASE, AND MAN'S PSYCHOLOGICAL LIFE." (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
An experiment conducted in New Zealand investigating the impact of the inclusion of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statements in job advertisements is reported. Male and female participants were presented with one of three versions of a recruitment advertisement for a managerial position with a fictitious organisation. Participants then completed a measure of organisational attractiveness for the company. The three advertisements were identical except for the Equal Employment Opportunity policy statement they included. One version included no EEO statement, one a minimal statement and one an extensive statement. There was no overall difference in organisational attractiveness as a function of the EEO statement type. However, there was an interaction between statement type and sex of participants. For female participants ratings of organisational attractiveness were highest in the extensive EEO statement condition and for male participants in the minimal statement condition. In addition female participants rated the organisation more positively than did male participants in the extensive statement condition. Implications for recruitment advertising are discussed.
Article
Two related studies investigated sex differences in self- and parental estimates of IQ scores on specific scales derived from standardized and validated IQ tests. In the first study 210 participants were asked to estimate their scores on the 11 WAIS-R subtests as well as their overall general IQ. Results showed males estimated their overall score, plus their total WAIS score, significantly higher than females, with effect sizes around 0.5. Factor analysis showed participants did differentiate between verbal and performance subscale scores on this test. In the second study 117 participants performed a similar task, but this time on the 12 subscales of the Stanford-Binet test. Males estimated their overall score higher than females. Factor analysis also showed 2 clear factors that reflected exactly the verbal and performance subscale scores.
Article
An important line of research using laboratory experiments has provided a new potential reason for gender imbalances in labour markets: men are more competitively inclined than women. Whether, and to what extent, gender differences in attitudes toward competition lead to differences in naturally occurring labour markets remains an open question. To examine this, we run a natural field experiment on job-entry decisions where we randomize almost 9000 job-seekers into different compensation regimes. By varying the role that individual competition plays in setting the wage and the gender composition, we examine whether a competitive compensation regime, by itself, can cause differential job entry. The data highlight the power of the compensation regime in that women disproportionately shy away from competitive work settings. Yet, there are important factors that attenuate the gender differences, including whether the job is performed in teams, whether the position has overt gender associations, and the age of the job-seekers. We also find that the effect is most pronounced in labour markets with attractive alternative employment options. Furthermore, our results suggest that preferences over uncertainty can be just as important as preferences over competition per se in driving job-entry choices.
Chapter
Research on recruitment practices (recruiters, recruitment sources, administrative procedures, vacancy characteristics, and selection standards) and recruitment processes (time-related, social, information-related, and interactive processes plus applicant self-selection and person-organization fit) is reviewed, and increments to knowledge about recruitment over the past decade are summarized. Trends in recruitment practices are noted, along with their potential implications for organizations and organizational researchers. A call is made for increased cross-level recruitment research, as well as recruitment research at the organizational level of analysis.