Gender Decoder

Frequently asked questions

Are you saying women can't be active/innovative/driven? Do you believe men aren't polite/cooperative/kind?

Not at all! The words listed above have come from academic research into language that is 'coded' as masculine and feminine, reflecting existing societal bias about these genders. That means that we associate each gender with those qualities, often at an unconscious level. For instance, we stereotype women as being more polite/cooperative/kind than men, and stereotype men as being more active/innovative/driven than women. Of course, we all know that people of any gender can possess any of those properties.
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What evidence do you have for the claim that the wording of job ads has any effect on the people reading them?

The evidence underlying this tool comes from a research paper written by written by Danielle Gaucher, Justin Friesen, and Aaron C. Kay, called Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality. It was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, July 2011, Vol 101(1), p109-28.
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Has this tool been approved by the authors of the research?

Nope. They have no involvement with this, but I sincerely hope they're happy it exists.
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What happens to the job ads that I check using this tool?

When you paste in your job ad and hit the "check" button, the job ad is analysed for coded language, and then the full text of the ad and the analysis are saved to a database. I'm the only person who has access to this database.

Data about your job ad is only stored in the database so that you can have a link to share with other people. The ads aren't posted publicly anywhere else, I don't publish a list of the share links, and I don't share the ad text or links with anyone else. I occasionally do a little data analysis, to see which coded words come up most often. But that's it.

If you're not comfortable having your data stored and used this way, get in touch with me on and I'll remove it from the database.
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Can I use this on other things that aren't job ads?

It's totally possible to use Gender Decoder on any text you like. However, the research on which it's based only examined job adverts, so there isn't any hard evidence (that I'm aware of) that gender-coded language has any effect in other domains. It seems like a reasonable assumption that there would be effects in some other domains; we just don't know for sure.
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Is this tool available in other languages?

No. The research was initially conducted in English and – while we might reasonably suspect that there would be a similar effect in other languages – I have no data to support this hypothesis. Since I'm trying to keep this tool based on research findings, I won't be making it available in other languages.
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Can I make my own version of this tool?

Yes, with a couple of caveats. You are permitted under the terms of the tool's licence to make your own copies, as long as you include the copyright notice and the permissions notice.

I think it would also be nice if you credited the authors of the research the tool is based on, but you don't have to do that.
Link to this FAQ