Heathrow Airport uses artificial intelligence to tackle gender bias in job ads


Artificial intelligence (AI) is helping Heathrow Airport eradicate gender bias by replacing potentially off-putting words with more “inclusive” alternatives.

The airport has started using the programme Textio, which highlights gendered phrasing in the airport’s job listings and suggests more “gender-neutral” replacements.

Words that were replaced include “perfection”, which was changed to “excellence”, while the word “meaningful” was found to be better than “challenging”.

Job listings that asked for certain skills were screened to remove the phrase “is essential” to “is important”.

Heathrow invested in the technology just weeks after it launched its women in aviation and aerospace charter at the Farnborough air show, which is designed to recruit more women and historically underrepresented people to apply for roles.

The Textio software works by identifying which words and language patterns attract the most diverse pool of applicants. Companies using the software have reportedly seen a 23 per cent increase in the number of female candidates.

The aviation industry endures a legacy problem of struggling to recruit female employees.

The gender pay gap at Ryanair stands at 67 per cent, meaning women earned 33p for every £1 men earned. Easyjet, meanwhile, launched the Amy Johnson initiative in 2015 to boost the number of its female pilots, and has set a target for 20 per cent of its new cadets to be female by 2020.

Talking about the introduction Fiona Tice, Heathrow’s talent and development director, said: As we continue to refine our expansion plans and look to significantly increase the number of people working at our airport, it is crucial that we do all that we can to attract the most talented individuals to Heathrow and create more gender equality in our sector