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Can a job ad indicate which gender is being sought?

The job ad must not specify the gender of the employee to be sought. If the job ad states, which gender is being sought, it is a discriminatory job ad. The mention of such a criterion in the job ad is allowed only in a few cases arising from the law. Excluding one group on the basis of gender on the job ad is direct discrimination and it is prohibited. The employer’s right and duty in selecting a new employee is to rely on indicators verifying qualification, such as length of employment, education, work experience, skills and personal qualities required for the job. Any candidates who do not meet the discriminatory requirements of the job ad are entitled to apply for a job of their choice. If a candidate is not recruited due to his or her gender, he or she has the right to seek redress in accordance with the provisions of the Gender Equality Act.


Conditioning of a particular gender is permissible only if it is an important and decisive professional requirement deriving from the nature of the professional activity or the conditions attached thereto. The requirement must have a legitimate aim and the requirement itself must be proportionate. Therefore , for example, the necessity of a worker of one gender or another is not regarded as discrimination if it arises from the nature of the work (e.g. the theatre is looking for a person of a certain gender to participate in the act, a model for women’s or men’s apparel, a personal carer or a person conducting a full search is searched for).

Another permitted exception is the use of special temporary measures that favour underrepresented gender and reduce gender inequality. For example, if an employer has significantly men, it may create a training or mentoring program specifically for women. The use of special temporary measures should always be clearly justified and of a temporary nature.

Furthermore, it is not prohibited to impose gender neutral conditions, which, while disadvantaging persons of one gender, are relevant and necessary, and which have an objectively justified and legitimate goal.

If you did not find an answer to your concern, you may contact the Estonian Commissioner for Gender Equality and Equal Treatment in a free format by sending an email to avaldus@volinik.ee. When contacting the Commissioner, the identity of the person shall not be disclosed and, upon request, anonymity shall be guaranteed.