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Recommendations costing women jobs

Houston -- Qualities used in letters of recommendation for women differ sharply than those for men, making them a chute in a woman's career ladder, U.S. researchers say.

Rice University professors Michelle Hebl and Randi Martin and graduate student Juan Madera, now an assistant professor at the University of Houston, reviewed 624 letters of recommendation for 194 applicants for eight university faculty jobs.

Female candidates were described in more communal -- social or emotive -- terms, such as: affectionate, helpful, kind, sympathetic, nurturing, tactful and agreeable, with behaviors such as helping others, taking direction well and maintaining relationships.