Kieran Snyder, a linguist and tech developer, uses her training as a linguist to expose the gender bias in the tech industry. For example, when she studied performance reviews, she found that women were way more likely to be criticized than their male counterparts — and that perceived female abrasiveness can undercut women’s careers in tech. A look at résumés exposed a difference in gender style that may contribute to low numbers of female employees.
Textio, which she co-founded, roots out unconscious gender bias in job applications, helping companies tweak job listings to increase the number of female applicants. It functions like a spell-check for gender bias, highlighting phrases that read as masculine and making suggestions to help attract more diverse candidates.
Textio’s extensive data crunching teased out general preferences (men gravitate toward bulleted lists of facts, women prefer narrative prose) and minute tweaks (changing “exceptional” for “extraordinary” is statistically proven to attract more female applicants) that can make a difference. Swapping the word candidate for you will lead to more female applicants; so will replacing proven with validated.
As well as highlighting specific words and offering replacements, Textio also automatically checks for equal opportunity statements. Turns out, applications that bring up things like Nerf wars and “mandatory 6 minute ab workouts” — standard fare for the tech industry — are over 700 percent less likely to have an equal opportunity statement.