Thursday, December 09, 2010

An Interesting Listen

On Here and Now, a public radio program. I happened to just hear it on a study which looked at the power of adjectives in job recommendation letters:

Is word choice in recommendation letters hurting women's chances for getting jobs? A recent study finds that people writing these letters often describe men with different words than women.

Adjectives like "assertive," "ambitious," and "confident" are used to describe men; while women are more likely to be characterized as "sensitive," "kind"and "nurturing."

Rice University psychology professor and study author, Mikki Hebl, says that these seemingly innocuous distinctions could be preventing women from getting jobs. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
As yet, there is no link to listen to the interview, but I hope one will appear later, because the interview covered an older study which found that survey subjects list certain adjectives to describe a good leader (independent, decisive), then list pretty much the same list of adjectives to describe a good male leader, but list a completely different list of adjectives to describe a good female leader.

And of course this is a problem for women.

This also reminded me of an early 1970s study which found a similar pattern in how study subjects defined psychologically healthy individuals and then psychologically healthy men and women. And obviously links to a post in my feminism series.