Ensuring Bias-Free Job Postings

Hiring managers can help ensure that MIT is creating an equitable and inclusive workplace. That begins with attracting diverse applicant pools. 

Research has shown that that some of the words used in job postings can play into the unconscious biases of people in the job market and this can have a big impact on who applies. The research focuses on coded words that encourage some applicants while discouraging others. 

It is important to distinguish some terms that are often used interchangeably:

  • Job Posting Description is the 250-word summary (job ad) that is posted on the MIT Careers site.
  • Position Description is developed at the DLCI-level from the job description. The position description includes a more specific description of the duties involved.
  • Job Description is the official, more generic description developed by the Compensation Office. (See more on job descriptions.)

MIT position descriptions and job posting descriptions should be reviewed by the DLCI Human Resources professional or Administrative Officer to ensure consistency.  The descriptions should be free of bias and reflect the Institute’s shared values of excellence, community, equity, belonging, openness, integrity, and mutual respect.

Tips to avoid bias in job postings

Use caution

Some words play to female and male stereotypes. Male-sounding words may discourage women from applying. Female-sounding words may discourage men from applying.

It is okay to use some of the words identified as male leaning or female leaning but try to find balance by using neutral language when possible.

Remember, the job posting description is communicating the specific skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to do a particular job. Take care not to change the meaning of a job attribute when choosing alternative words. 

Return to the Hiring Process Overview