Current and past research confirms the existence of a gender gap that prevents women from earning the same salaries as men, having equal access to typically male sectors, and climbing the professional ladder to the highest positions of management. The separation of the sexes often starts at home or at school, with girls being led to choices of gender-stereotypical careers or domestic life. This needs to be tackled from various angles, and one tool for this is non-sexist language. Sexist language makes women invisible and secondary by referring to them in the masculine and has been proven to negatively affect women in different ways, especially in employment. The United Nations includes best practices and strategies for non-sexist language in the Sustainable Development Goal number 5: “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” For the EU’s European Institute for Gender Equality, the goal of non-sexist language is to eliminate the ambiguous masculine and expressions that discriminate. Despite a concerted but inconsistent effort to eradicate sexist language by governments and international organisations, discrepancies in gender expression between languages do not necessarily require the application of different techniques. In an analysis of job vacancy titles of two international organisations, a variety of gender options was observed, with some languages showing a higher proportion of neutral-language forms. Our proposal for non-sexist drafting and translation of job advertisements calls for the systematic use of both genders alphabetically with variable profession nouns, and the use of the gender initials (f/m) after invariable, collective, and metonymic nouns, also in pronominal-gender languages like English. We believe that making women visible in vacancy titles will encourage female applications and establish mental connections that make women relate to the posts. Although gender specification of job advertisements might not be the only solution to closing the gender gap, it could contribute to the betterment of women in employment. More studies are necessary to show the advantages of applying non-sexist language in vacancies for the advancement of women in the labour market together with the adoption of simple rules in drafting and translation.
Medel, María López
Non-sexist Language in Vacancy Titles: A Proposal for Drafting and Translation in International Organisations.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 23(5), 63-77.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol23/iss5/5