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Apple is writing job listings to appeal to more women, language analysis shows

2 months ago by Thinknum Media

Last week, we introduced a gender decoder to begin analyzing job openings for potentially offputting descriptions through gender-coded words.

After looking at Google ($NASDAQ:GOOG), we turn to another FAANG company in Apple ($NASDAQ:AAPL), where it is using female friendly language in job descriptions as part of a larger diversity effort at the company to equalize its workforce.

Depending on the frequency of feminine and masculine-coded words in job descriptions, the gender decoder assigns a rating between 0 and 100 to how a female or male candidate would feel like they "belonged" in the occupation. A score towards 0 indicated that the language was heavily coded towards females, while a score of 100 would mean it is heavily skewed towards males.

The result? A cross section that appears to show that the majority of job description language at Apple is written in a way to not be off-putting to female readers, but not to the point that it puts off male readers as a result.

As of now, Apple reports that 67% of its workforce is male. That's down from 70% in 2014.

Across 11 different job types at Apple — ranging from Retail roles to Hardware and even Student internships — not a single category had a gender decoder score greater than 60% as of May 20th, indicating that Apple is paying attention to wording in job descriptions to make their positions biased towards males in a male-dominated industry.

One of the wildest swings seen over time was in the Students category. Here, job descriptions were, on average, slightly more coded towards men, but suddenly shot down towards more feminine during late April.

The only two job categories that have a Gender Decoder rating above 50% — meaning that the descriptions for these positions are more masculine coded than feminine coded — are for Machine Learning and AI roles and Retail positions. But even then, these descriptions are only 2.3% and 1.4% over the line of non-bias respectively.

It is interesting to note, however, that Machine Learning and AI jobs at Apple scored below 50% as recently as April 2019, in a sight that more recent job listings have skewed masculine.

Apple Retail jobs — often the only customer-interacting positions within the company at Apple's many retail establishments, have a slight male bias according to the gender decoder, scoring as high as 52% as of April 2019. This is a pretty flat score, but it does show how Apple writes its customer-facing positions a bit differently than those that serve more internal, corporate functions.

The rest of Apple's corporate categories all have language within their job descriptions that lean towards a feminine bias. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; in an industry that is struggling to reflect more female representation, human resource departments may be adding in language to not put off potential candidates of any kind, especially those who may be easily off-put by male-biased language.

As we've reported recently, Apple is increasingly becoming a software and services company now that it's built a massive hardware ecosystem. Media, software, and subscriptions are clearly the company's fiscal path forward, and the company is doing what it can to attract a gender-neutral workforce. The most recent gender-decoder score for Apple's Software and Services jobs sits at a female-friendly 44%.

Then again, these companies may not actively be putting in this kind of language. This entire gender decoder is based on a study from sociologists who showed job adverts which included different kinds of gender-coded language to men and women. They then recorded how appealing the jobs seemed and how much the participants felt that they "belonged" in that occupation.

Apple's Design Group recruiting site begins with a simple slogan: "Make the result beautiful. And the effort invisible." Apple's iconic design sense has been anything but masculine over the years, appealing to both beauty and practicality in its simplicity. Job roles in this group include industrial design, human interface design, and communications design. Gender decoder scores for these jobs have hovered around a relatively unbiased 40%.

Apple Operations and Supply Chain jobs, those positions responsible for everything from supply demand, retail fulfillment, and logistics, may sound like traditionally male-oriented jobs. But Apple has written its job descriptions for these positions in a manner that isn't just not off-putting to female applicants, but, as of late, even more appealing to women.

Apple Marketing jobs include product marketing, marketing communications, and corporate communications positions. Job-listing language at Apple has been welcoming especially to females since the new year, but have seen a slight movement toward language that is less off-putting to men, and even hinted with a flat 50%, hitting 49% in mid-May.

Apple's Corporate Functions group includes finance, legal, HR, social initiatives, corporate security, and similar positions. Apple's job listings for this sector have been more appealing to women for some time, but as of late, it's seen an even heavier bias according to the gender decoder, scoring a female-friendly 32% as of late.

As stereotypically male "Hardware" jobs at Apple may sound, job descriptions of this type have been as welcoming to female applicants as any other despite a slight skew toward being less off-putting to men in recent weeks. These jobs include positions in Apple's Acoustic Technologies, analog and digital design, architecture, battery engineering, and camera technologies groups.

As HR departments around the country try to figure out how to further diversify offices, or at least ensure that nobody is being discriminated against in hiring, figuring out how descriptions are written may be key to make sure all potential candidates feel equal in applying for positions. 

This article was written in collaboration within Thinknum Media.

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