Skip to main site content.
A nurse chats to a resident at a nursing home. (BSIP/UIG via Getty Images)

Words matter

Male job seekers are put off by ‘feminine’ language in listings

January 18, 2017

Health care is one of the fastest-growing sectors in terms of employment opportunities, but data suggests that unemployed men would rather go without a job than pursue what they see as “women’s work.” A recent analysis by Texito suggests that the way so-called “pink collar jobs” are described in listings may play a part in turning off male job seekers.

Texito’s analysis of the fastest-growing jobs between 2014 and 2024 found that employers use “feminine” language in their job listings, which has been shown to attract women and repel men, The New York Times reports. Postings for home health aides, an opportune field that is currently composed of 89 percent women, often used words like “sympathetic,” “families,” “care,” and “empathy.” Job listings for nurse practitioners, genetic counsellors, and physicians assistants — all occupations dominated by women — used similar language.

Postings for cartography, one of the few fast-growing fields that is male-dominated, tended to deploy very different language: “manage,” “forces,” “exceptional,” “superior.”  Texito found that these types of words appeal to men, and consequently result in male hires.

Interestingly, as the New York Times points out, women have historically infiltrated male-dominated professions — like law and management — more than men have entered into female-dominated jobs. This may be, in part, due to the language that is used to promote these fields. Health workers certainly need to be “exceptional,” but cartographers do not necessarily need to be “sympathetic” to excel at work.

Read more at Texito and the New York Times.



As women take over male-dominated fields, the pay for those jobs drops