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Textio Spell Checks for Gender Bias

Stashed in: Women, Software!, @lizgannes, Awesome, Sexism, Turing, Corporate Diversity

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The best research on the subject increasingly shows that raising awareness of gender bias without having measurable goals and practices is actually COUNTERPRODUCTIVE because employees end up concluding that "everyone does it so I'm not that bad". Technical solutions -- like stripping out names and before sending resumes to hiring managers -- can help in tech especially because they are perceived as fair to all and based on science, as well as being baked into the actual practices that account for bias. This is a super clever attempt to help people weed out gendered language in job postings, and in doing so actually generate MORE and BETTER candidates.

Yes, very clever!

I set to work making Textio’s suggestions — adding an equal opportunity statement, changing the word “candidate” to “you.” A couple minutes later, and with literally no substantive changes, the unconscious bias written into the posting and detected by Textio had been scrubbed.

Textio, which was developed by veterans of Amazon and Microsoft, is currently available by invitation and already being used by companies like Expedia. The company recently raised $1.5 million in funding from Cowboy Ventures, Bloomberg Beta and Upside Partnership.

The first time I read about this I didn't realize they're doing sophisticated machine learning:

Now I think it's even cooler an idea.