In the scholars' analysis of the words that appeared in the letters of recommendation, they found clear patterns of word use for women's and men's letters. Women were more likely to be described with words such as those cited above, as well as "nurturing," "kind," "agreeable" and "warm." Men, in contrast, were much more likely to be described in words classified as "agentive" — words such as "assertive," "confident," "aggressive," "ambitious," "independent" and "daring."
What the analysis showed is that letter writers didn't need to use words like "feminine" to create female stereotypes — and that they did so, time and again, with women who had the same intellectual achievements as their male counterparts.
…The research is based on a content analysis of 624 letters of recommendation submitted on behalf of 194 applicants for eight junior faculty positions at an unidentified research university.