Indicating Your Gender on Your CV
Should you state your gender on your CV? In the contact details section, you enter necessary details such as your first and last name, address, telephone number and email address. However, other personal information such as your date of birth, place of birth, nationality, marital status, number of children and gender is usually not necessary. However, there are exceptions.
Your CV is a marketing document, which is intended to showcase your skills, expertise and experience. Mentioning your gender usually brings no added value as most employers are only interested in your ability to perform in the job.
Furthermore, in most cases, recruiters will be able to determine from your name or your photo (if you add one) whether you are male or female.
When mentioning your gender can be to your advantage
There are, of course, situations when mentioning your gender can be beneficial:
- You have an unusual or unisex name
If you have a name that does not immediately indicate that you are a man or woman, you could consider including your gender in the contact details of your CV.
In the English-speaking world, in particular, masculine names such as ‘Alex’ have become popular for females. Equally, if you have a foreign name, your gender may not be immediately obvious.
- You’re applying for a role where your gender matters
There are many roles that specifically require a man or a woman to fill the role. For instance, a gym appointing a changing room attendant can require the applicant to be of a specific gender. Acting or modelling roles may require a man or a woman, depending on the part. A women’s refuge may only want to appoint female staff so that women feel safe.
In such cases, you should still only mention your gender on your CV if your name does not immediately indicate that you’re a man or woman.
Anti-discrimination laws around the world dictate that everyone must have equal opportunities to work and education. This means that you should not be discriminated against based on a range of characteristics such as nationality, race, religion, political affiliation or gender.
While the gender gap between women and men is narrowing, the gap is far from being closed for women in the job market. This is evident from figures from Catalyst, a global nonprofit organisation working with some of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies to create inclusive workplaces for women.
Some of the common reasons for the gender gap include:
- Women are under-represented in senior positions.
- They are also less likely to be in paid employment than men.
- Caring responsibilities are very often assumed by women.
- Many poorly-paid roles, which are traditionally considered as “feminine” (e.g. nurses, teachers, shop assistants), are occupied by women.
- Despite the slow progress in the emancipation of women, women can still be discriminated against in the job market and in the workplace, as follows:
- An interviewer may ask a woman how she intends to juggle childcare and work (men are rarely asked this question).
- Job descriptions may not be gender-neutral. For instance, words such as ‘hacker’ or ‘ninja’ are used.
- An employment contract may not be extended because of pregnancy.
- There is inadequate protection against sexual harassment in the workplace.
- The ‘glass ceiling’ prevents women advancing into senior or executive positions.
Gender neutral language use in job descriptions
- One way some employers are helping to fight gender discrimination is to use gender neutral language in job descriptions. For example, a job description may ask that ‘candidates have 2 years of experience in project management’ instead of saying ‘s/he will lead all project management efforts’.
- Gender-neutral job titles may also be used to avoid favouring with sex, for example, ‘chairperson’ instead of ‘chairman’.
Many of the world’s languages have nouns which are classed as either masculine, feminine or neutral. Afrikaans (spoken in South Africa), on the other hand, is very much like English in that it only has gendered pronouns (he, she, they), meaning job descriptions are more likely to be gender-neutral than other languages.
Non-binary gender in job titles
Many countries around the world legally recognise non-binary or third sex classifications. There is where an individual neither identifies as male nor female or when they have been raised as a particular sex (male or female), but identify with another sex in later life.
To account for these legislations, many employers are including a third gender option in the job description: m / w / x.
Gender and (positive) discrimination
Some employers may indicate in the job description that they welcome applications from candidates of a particular sex (usually women). This is known as ‘positive action’, where an employer takes steps to help members of under-represented groups to overcome disadvantages. In the UK, this is legal under Equality Act 2010.
Positive discrimination, on the other hand, is illegal. Due to anti-discrimination laws, employers are not allowed to select candidates purely on the basis on their gender or any other attribute such as nationality, age, etc.
The employer’s preference for a man or woman
An employer’s preference for a man, a woman or a non-binary person often arises from the desire to increase diversity in the team. Research shows that diverse teams help organisations to perform better.
Do you fall into the preferred group? Then, you could potentially include your gender in your CV, if your name does not immediately indicate that you are a man or woman. If you don't fall into the preferred group, however, it's best to leave out your gender.
Instead of indicating your gender on your CV (if not obvious), you could put a prefix (e.g. Miss, Mrs, or Mr) before your name, in your cover letter. This is a natural way to let employers know your gender without drawing too much attention to it.