Gender-masking may get in the way of solving gender bias

January 10, 20181 minute read

Many companies that are concerned about gender bias getting in the way of fair hiring practices have turned to gender-masking, such as removing names from resumes or altering voices on phone interviews. But Katharine Zaleski, president and a co-founder of, writes in an essay in the New York Times that “Gender-masking tools do nothing to address the culture of a company.”

Zaleski contends that while removing any clues of gender from job candidates may prevent discrimination at that point, the person hired into the type of culture that discriminates against women may not be valued and may face odds against her success.

She recounts the experience of a Silicon Valley executive who said the strategy of gender masking didn’t work at her company “because the pool of applicants was very small to start.” Another reason was that other clues – such as a gap in the resume of a woman who had taken time off for caregiving — sent a signal about her gender anyway.

The biggest problem, Zaleski contends, is that gender masking “allows companies to ignore the challenges of making their environments more inclusive.”