NCWIT Checklist for Reducing Unconscious Bias in Job Descriptions/Advertisements

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Use the following checklist to identify bias in job advertisements and descriptions.

  • Does the description contain an imbalance of masculine or feminine-associated language (e.g., language such as “high-powered,” “results-driven,” “action-oriented,” “people person”)?

  • Are all of the criteria listed necessary for doing this job well? For example, do you list as “required” certain programming languages or certain skills that could actually be learned on the job? Are some of the criteria really preferred and not required?

  • Does the description avoid extreme modifiers, such as “world-class,” “unparalleled,” or “rock star?”

  • Do any of the criteria reflect typical assumptions about the “kind of person” you think usually does this job? For example, do you say that you want an assertive, hard-driving leader when other leadership styles would also work? If so, ask whether characteristics or criteria are truly necessary for the job or whether they reflect subtle biases about who traditionally does this job?

  • Could additional criteria be included that would open up possibilities for a wider range of candidates who might still do an excellent job?

  • Do you list “perks” about your workplace environment that might subtly indicate this is a male‑dominated environment (e.g., free beer, foosball friendly or nerffilled). If so, expand or modify these descriptions to include a range of preferences.

  • Do you include and value criteria such as “ability to work on a diverse team or with a diverse range of people?”
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