What Job Would You Apply to? Findings on the Impact of Language on Job Searches

Last registered on May 17, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

What Job Would You Apply to? Findings on the Impact of Language on Job Searches
Initial registration date
May 11, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
May 17, 2023, 2:37 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

Pontificia Universidad Javeriana

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
PI Affiliation
Interamerican Development Bank
PI Affiliation
Interamerican Development Bank

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
In this study, we examine the efficacy of four nuanced language interventions in job postings within male-dominated fields, aiming to attract female applicants. Utilizing a discrete choice experiment with over 5,000 participants across five Latin American countries, we investigate two mechanisms: gender stereotypes and the employment of inclusive language. Our findings indicate that both male and female participants value informative and inclusive language, with women exhibiting greater sensitivity. The impact of supplementary words in an advertisement is pronounced when inclusive language is subtle but diminishes with stronger inclusivity signals. This research underscores the significance of language and information presentation in job advertisements for fostering a gender-balanced workforce.

Registration Citation

Diaz Escobar, Ana Maria et al. 2023. "What Job Would You Apply to? Findings on the Impact of Language on Job Searches." AEA RCT Registry. May 17. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.11407-1.0
Experimental Details


In this study, we examine the language barriers that contribute to unfavorable labor market outcomes for women, which are often rooted in individual, organizational, or institutional factors. We test how the use of language in a job post affects the probability of men and women applying for that position, measuring if language functions and operates as a barrier to entry to jobs for women, particularly in sectors and occupations in which women are underrepresented. To this end, we conducted a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE), which uses a stated-preference approach instead of asking direct questions about the job characteristics. This method presents participants with a series of decision sets by varying the language used in the ads. The choice of each individual reflects their true preferences regarding some of the implicit attributes or characteristics in the job advertisements.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Choice of job ad, that will mimic labor market participation and access to employment
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The job choice is measured using a DCE that identifies which job ad is chosen by a participant, from a set of choices provided in different scenarios.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We conducted a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) to measure the effect of language utilized in job advertisements on the job application behavior of men and women in Latin America. Our study analyzed the probability of selecting a job to apply for when presented with a variety of sets of language-specific options.

Our study involved creating a fictitious baseline job ad in a male-dominated occupation using a male-oriented skill that is commonly used in these ads. We then compare this to job ads that use a more gender-neutral language for otherwise identical job postings. Our analysis focused on two main interventions. First, modifying the language used to describe a skill required for applicants in the job ad, or omitting it altogether, with the aim of reducing the influence of gender stereotypes. Second, utilizing gender-neutral language to signal a commitment to inclusivity, such as using gender-inclusive sentences or employing gender-neutral language in the job ad, as follows:
- Control: "Base" job ad: Male-oriented skill.
- Skill-Stereotype: T1: Skill's description -provides a description of the skill used in "Base", but does not specify the skill. T_2: No skill detailed -does not specify any skill in the job ad.
- Inclusive work environment: T_3: Diversity statement -we use a phrase that explicitly requests women and members of the disadvantaged population, but is unrelated to the skills required for the occupation. T_4: Gender-inclusive language -uses explicit language related to the feminine and masculine spelling of the skill.

Participants were exposed to nine decision sets, each consisting of pairs of hypothetical job postings that varied in terms of language. Each posting was designed to resemble those commonly found on job search engines and referred to a job within the sector and occupation that the participants had selected from a list. The job listing contained a general description of the position, information about the work schedule, holding constant the location of the job vacancy (downtown area). It did not include any other information regarding wages, the type of contract, or its duration. The reason for eliminating wages from the job postings is to avoid confounding factors related to income effects in the selection process. For this reason, we are able to measure the willingness of both men and women to apply for a job ad using a particular language, but not their willingness to pay for it.

In each decision set, participants were asked to choose between the baseline job advertisement, "Base", and one of the light-touch interventions described earlier, with no opt-out option. The aim of excluding the opt-out option was to encourage participants to make a choice between the two alternatives and provide more insights into their decision-making processes. Job seekers participants were told that the ads were fictitious. We randomly assigned two skills to each occupation chosen by the participant and created four decision sets, one for each treatment. To check for inattention, we randomly repeated one of the decision sets to evaluate if the answer was consistent. This resulted in a total of nine decision sets for each participant. In addition, we randomize by individual the position of the two job posts in each screen (left/right), and the order of appearance of all nine screens.

This design allows us to elicit revealed preferences for job ads that use different types of language, instead of measuring stated preferences of working-age job seekers in the five Latin American countries.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Every participant was presented with all decision sets.
Randomization Unit
Individuals (men and women) in each country.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
All individuals were exposed to all the treatments.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
FCEA Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials