Reducing gender bias in the recruitment process

Posted on:

1st June 2023

What is gender bias and how does it show up in the recruitment process?

Gender bias is when someone is treated differently based on their gender, either intentionally or unintentionally, which can manifest in recruitment in a few ways. For example, stereotyping is when people make assumptions about certain genders based on societal norms or beliefs. People may assume that men are more aggressive and better suited for leadership roles, or that women are less qualified for certain jobs. Some individuals may choose not to employ a young woman because they assume she will wish to start a family in the near future. This kind of thinking can lead to gender bias in the recruitment process, with recruiters failing to consider candidates who may or may not fit these stereotypes. 

Language use is another common way that gender bias can show up in recruitment. Using gendered language like "he" or "she" can suggest that a certain gender is preferred for a job, as well as exclude a whole pool of candidates who don't identify with the assigned genders at birth.

Unconscious bias is when people have biases or stereotypes that they may not even be aware of. For example, a recruiter may unconsciously favour candidates who are similar to them in terms of gender, leading to a lack of diversity in the hiring process. It's important to be aware of these biases and take steps to mitigate them in order to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace.

The effect of gender bias on mental health

Across the globe, the impact of gender inequality on mental health is significant. Women and people with marginalised genders face increased levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other psychological challenges, due to gender disparities. 

Gender discrimination is when someone gets treated unfairly just because of their gender. It's all about denying chances, benefits, or rewards to a person or a group based solely on their gender.

It's important to consider the impact of gender bias on mental health and take steps to create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for all employees.

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One common form of discrimination is the assumption that men are not suited for certain roles or industries. Furthermore, men may also face discrimination in terms of parental leave and flexible work arrangements, as these benefits are often associated with women. Overall, gender discrimination in recruitment can have a negative impact on men's career opportunities and can perpetuate harmful stereotypes about gender roles.​


Discrimination can manifest in various ways, such as being overlooked for job positions, facing invasive and inappropriate questions about their gender identity, or being subject to stereotypes and assumptions that limit their professional prospects. Inclusion and diversity in recruitment are crucial to addressing these systemic barriers and ensuring equal opportunities for all individuals, regardless of their gender identity or expression. 

Trans people in the workplace are facing steadily increasing levels of workplace discrimination with 1 in 3 employers admitting recently they are ‘less likely’ to hire a transgender person.


Sometimes employers have these preconceived ideas about what women can or can't do, and they end up excluding them from job opportunities. Women often face discrimination when it comes to things like getting paid less, having fewer chances for promotions, or being overlooked for leadership roles. And if a woman becomes pregnant or becomes a Mum, things can get even tougher. Some employers unfairly assume that being a Mum means she won't be as committed to her job, which is just plain wrong. These barriers not only keep inequality going strong, but they also stop organisations from benefiting from different viewpoints and amazing contributions that women can bring.

How to to reduce gender bias in the recruitment process


Make sure that when writing job descriptions or describing the role of a particular position, you use language that doesn't assume anything about the gender of your applicants. This helps ensure that applicants from all backgrounds feel welcome in applying for your open positions. 

It’s also worth only including essential skills for the role . When job descriptions include non-essential skills or qualifications, it can create an unnecessary barrier to entry for certain candidates.

Sometimes when we write, we can write in a way that appeals to some genders more than others, without meaning to. There are tools that will check your JD’s for gendered language, like which we recommend using to check your language. Another tip for writing inclusive job adverts is to describe the role and not the person as this removes anything that could be a subjective requirement. 


Almost two-thirds of UK employees would be happy to share pay details publicly if it meant better pay equity, new salary transparency research has found. And in some locations, such as New York, it’s becoming the law for salaries to be included in adverts to support pay transparency.

According to a report by GlassDoor, companies with a higher level of pay transparency have a smaller pay gap between men and women. Additionally, a study by Harvard Business Review found that women are more likely to negotiate for higher pay when they have access to salary information, levelling the playing field for all genders. Pay transparency also helps to combat gender bias by making it harder for employers to justify paying women less than men for the same job. By encouraging your clients to be transparent about salary and benefits, they can work towards creating a more equitable and fair workplace for all employees. 


As a recruiter, you can take a proactive approach to prevent gender bias in the recruitment process by analysing each stage of the process to identify potential areas of bias. For example, when candidate sourcing, LinkedIn has a feature that allows recruiters to hide the name of a candidate in order to avoid unconscious bias based on gender. With this feature, recruiters can evaluate candidates without any knowledge of their gender. Additionally, some companies, like us, have started to move away from using traditional resumes or CVs in order to further eliminate biases that may arise. 

Recruiters can design a structured and fair interview process that is designed with inclusion and diversity in mind by taking a few key steps. For example, creating a standardised set of interview questions, using diverse interview panels to gather different perspectives, and ensuring equal opportunities for all candidates. ​

Practical assessments and skills-focused hiring have the potential to foster diversity, inclusion, and remove biases within the recruitment process. By prioritising objective evaluation of candidates' abilities and competencies, rather than relying solely on traditional qualifications or biassed judgments, you can create a fair and inclusive environment. 

These steps are just a few examples of how you can improve your processes to eliminate gender bias in the recruitment process. 

Check out our article for 6 ways to remove unconscious bias from your recruitment process.

In conclusion, it's essential to prioritise inclusion and diversity in the workplace, and reducing gender bias in the recruitment process is a significant step towards achieving this goal. Every single person brings unique perspectives and experiences to the table, and by embracing these differences, we can drive innovation and creativity. However, gender bias can hinder these efforts, which is why it's important to be aware of its various forms, such as stereotyping and unconscious bias. By reducing gender bias in recruitment we can create a more welcoming and inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued and supported.