Did you know that using phrases like “a proven track record” on job postings result in more male applicants, whereas “a passion for learning” attracts female applicants?
These findings are according to the startup Textio that launched last year and recently raised $1.5 million for its software that promises to spot gender bias in job descriptions and performance reviews. Companies like Textio are becoming a big business, particularly in Silicon Valley, where the percentage of underrepresented minorities is so low, employers shouldn?t trust their own judgment anymore. After all, if we learned nothing else from Ellen Pao?s landmark gender discrimination case, we know that inequality is never as black and white as some of us believe.
Unconscious bias, often referred to as “second-generation discrimination,” can be as subtle as the language used to describe men and women during performance reviews, as tech company Kanjoya discovered with its emotion-aware language-processing technology. For example, Kanjoya’s technology, which has been developed in over eight years in collaboration with linguistics experts from Stanford University, finds that the word “assertiveness” is used to describe women negatively in reviews, but is correlated with positive reviews and promotions for men.
Armen Berjikly, founder and CEO, tells Fast Company his company spent years compiling data before their technology was actually developed?and that?s what gives Kanjoya its “precise” ability to “read between the lines of what someone?s trying to communicate.” Its tools uncover subtle differences in opinions, attitudes, and sentiment in conversations and can detect the earliest signs of bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Berjikly says Kanjoya?s technology is also able to recognize human emotions and intent in language.
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