Looking for a Sales Guru - A content analysis of gendered language in job advertisements

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Corporate Communication
57 + 3
Research objectives The objective of the study is to examine if and how gendered language appears in job advertisements. Both horizontal and vertical segregation exists in the job market, meaning that organizations are lacking valuable diversity in their personnel. Job advertisements as part of recruitment communication have a key role in attracting talent to organizations. The theory of doing gender in social interaction is considered as the theoretical premise for analyzing language as a method of socially constructing gender in the organizational context. This study aims to reveal the ways how gendered language appears in job advertisement texts as a possible mean of maintaining gender bias in the recruitment process. Data and methodology The study is qualitative by nature. Job advertisements gathered from Aalto University’s job portal Careerweb serve as the data for the study. The data was examined with content analysis methods, coding and categorizing descriptive terms and thought units in the texts. Almost 450 gendered terms were found in the data. The gendered terms were grouped and analyzed to produce findings on the ways how gender is implied in the language that is used in job advertisements. Key findings The main finding in this study is that gender appears in various ways in the language that is used in job advertisements. Gendered language is used both in the way how the ideal candidate is described and how the organization that is hiring portrays its own culture and values. Gender can appear in language as an agentic or communal trait or due to the use of emotional or assertive words. The use of words that have historical associations with one gender were also discovered in the analysis. According to earlier research, identifying relatable values in job advertisements can affect how attractive the vacancy appears to the job seeker and therefore gendered language can cause unwanted gender bias in job advertisements.
Thesis advisor
Eräranta, Kirsi
gender, social construction, recruitment communication, job advertisements, content analysis
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