Masculine Coded Language

A fascinating story emerged from the world of English sewage technicians. Utility company Thames Water, who supply London and its surrounds aimed to rebalance their workforce.

The present gender split being 33/67. Males more in post 2:1, they wished to encourage more female applicants.

They altered job ad wording.

Out went references to ‘competitive’, ‘confident’ and ‘champion’. As well as citing ‘outside labour’ experience. Language potentially ‘masculine coded’ was replaced. In came ‘learning’ environment and ‘team player’.

The proportion of female response shot up from 8% to 46%.

In general, out should go terms like superhero, worldclass and ninja. To attract more females, according to Karen Wheeler, who went from studying engineering to working at Queensland Uni, you should try words like connected, co-operative, interpersonal and supportive instead.

Given this, what does the language of your sales collateral say of you?

Is there subliminal, or even overt, cues as to your stance which could be decoded by your prospects in a manner that may lead them to feel alienated by you?

With a functional bias misleadingly encoded?

Perhaps time for an inclusive audit of your own.

Are your words truly those of the people with whom you wish to engage?

On a broader level, speaking arts to the sciences? We say tomahto, they say tomayto?

I myself have witnessed those esteemed counters of beans switch off from the enthusiastic hyperbolic adjectivery of a super-keen young cub rep.

A timely reminder to talk to people in their own language. Not the one you’ve come to rest on for yourself. So they may feel that your words are open for them.

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