Masculine and Feminine Language in Communities


(Richard Millington) #1

I was reading this article and seeing a clear connection to community activities as well.

I wondered if we’ve also been a proponent of this at times. Here’s a snippet below for context:

Results indicated that job advertisements for male-dominated areas employed greater masculine wording (i.e., > words associated with male stereotypes, such as leader, competitive, dominant) than advertisements within female-dominated areas.

No difference in the presence of feminine wording (i.e., words associated with female stereotypes, such as support, understand, interpersonal) emerged across male- and female-dominated areas.

Next, the consequences of highly masculine wording were tested across 3 experimental studies. When job advertisements were constructed to include more masculine than feminine wording, participants perceived more men within these occupations (Study 3), and importantly, women found these jobs less appealing (Studies 4 and 5).

Results confirmed that perceptions of belongingness (but not perceived skills) mediated the effect of gendered wording on job appeal (Study 5). The function of gendered wording in maintaining traditional gender divisions, implications for gender parity, and theoretical models of inequality are discussed.

Looking at the list of words, I know we’ve used plenty of them in our web copy in the past. Curious to get a sense of what others think here.

Could be some interesting applications to communities here.


(Sarah Hawk) #2

The job ads on pg 126 are interesting. There is lots there that could be translated into our applications of persuasion.


(Michelle Hamilton-Page) #3

In most of the work I’m doing in teach and higher education, including artificial intelligence and education, all notions of gender have been removed from the discussion and the kind of skill is being noted, rather than what would have been what is traditionally ascribed to gender. The world economic forum, the OECD are just a few places that are leading the way with some of this discussion. I would say that the job description could start out by naming the “type” of skills right up front, get it out of the realm of reading in gender, and into the realm of thinking about how the workplace now and of the future is organized.


(Richard Millington) #4

Hey @MichelleHP, thanks for this answer.

I’m wondering how do you remove all notions of gender?

The challenge I have with reading the article mentioned is it lists words/phrases which are masculine/feminine, but it doesn’t provide neutral alternatives.

Thus is it a balance between the two? Or is it finding more neutral ways of explaining these things? I’m interested in seeing how this might apply to the community site rather than job ads.


(Michelle Hamilton-Page) #5

Hi there,

Sorry for the delay in my response! End of the semester business…

I am suggesting not that you remove notions of gender but that you frame this discussion by using the kind of skill categorizing that OECD does in Figure 1 of the article I linked to. I’d match some of that language to that which is considered gendered and pull out the more gender neutral sets of “21st Century Skills” They talk about literacies and competencies and character qualities. Some of these will be less gendered, maybe not gender neutral.

So I’m going for neutral as I think that this also starts to shift what we read ourselves out of right off the bat if we are used to being in highly masculine fields, facing systemic barriers right at the job listing.

The same holds true for a community site, and for how I work in health with clients when I’m following their lead on what pronouns they use or how they identify. I go with neutral, try to reduce barriers to customer service and increase inclusion.