Ladies, You Don’t Want A Recommendation Letter To Call You “Kind”

Bad news, ladies: being described as “caring,” “sensitive,” “kind” or “nurturing” in a recommendation letter can work against you. According to research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, of 624 letters of recommendation submitted on behalf of 194 applicants for eight positions at a university, women are more likely to be described with stereotypically “feminine” adjectives by both male and female letter writers and they are less likely to get offered the job if tainted with these “feminine” descriptions. Researchers took the letters, removed identifying, gendered information, and controlled for things like papers published and honors received. The search committee rated the letters in which the subject was described as “feminine” the lowest for both men and women, but women’s letters of recommendation letters are where these descriptors were most likely to appear. What are some of the words more likely used to describe men? “Confident,” “aggressive,” “ambitious,” “independent,” and “daring.” According to Inside Higher Ed, scholars who analyzed the research said there are “clear patterns” of word choice in recommendation letters. Good to know. I definitely don’t want any future employers to think I’m some wimp who’s “kind” or “caring” or anything like that! But really, I love working at The Frisky so much and I’m not leaving until you pry my MacBook from my cold, dead hands. On the off-chance, though, that Zoo Atlanta calls up to offer me a position as a full-time baby panda cuddler, I’ve taken the liberty of drafting a recommendation letter for my busy boss, Amelia, to sign:

To whom it may concern:

From the moment Jessica began working for The Frisky, she has been nicking pens and drinking milk we keep in the office mini-fridge for coffee by the cupful. She is also a manic email sender on nights and weekends on pressing matters such as “We should hire Tila Tequila as an intern and film it” and “Thought you might want to read this National Geographic article on penguins.” You can ignore all of these. God knows I do. Ha ha!

But seriously, that said, Jessica has shown a willingness to write openly about her life. So openly, in fact, that has surely prevented her from even running for office as the town dog catcher. She expels verbal diarrhea so thoroughly that her boyfriend’s elderly grandparents are consistently scandalized when they Google her name looking for stories that nice girl their grandson is dating has written. FWIW, about once a week she gets a Facebook message from some random perv asking if she’s looking for a spanking session.

Her complete lack of shame especially came in handy when we asked her to go to a barbershop with John DeVore and get her “facial hair” shaved for no discernible reason at all.

Additionally, she is usually very serious, so on the rare occasion that she makes a foul or off-color joke, it is usually extra funny. That makes up for the fact she completely sucks at using Photoshop.

So, yeah. Hire her. Cuddling a baby panda is totally something she could do.

Yours sincerely,
Amelia McDonell-Parry-Gosling
Editor-in-Chief

Sounds about right. [Inside Higher Ed]

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