This is an interesting article from Inside Higher Ed, about a new study examining the different words used in letters of recommendation to describe male and female applicants for faculty positions (and the impact of those descriptions):
Here’s a link to the journal article discussed:
Madera, J.M., M.R. Hebl, and R.C. Martin. 2009. Gender and Letters of Recommendation for Academia: Agentic and Communal Differences. Journal of Applied Psychology 94(6): 1591-1599.