Have you ever noticed that Alexa and Siri have a female voice? Or that most GPS systems do? Is it just a coincidence?
“68% voiced by females”.
In 2020 of all of Voice Talent Online’s voice over projects worldwide, 68% were voiced by females. Two thirds!
In the voiceover industry, we are used to customers requesting different kind of voices, accents, and languages for their projects. When contacting us, most customers already know what type of voice they are looking for. That is, the gender and style of voiceover artist they may want to use.
VTO female stats
But why do some choose a female voice over a male one and vice versa?
“83% recorded by female voice talents.”
At Voice Talent Online, of all phone messages that we recorded last year, 83% were recorded by female voice talents.
“95% recorded by female voice talents.”
Of all medical projects we carried out in 2020, 95% were recorded by female voiceover artists.
“38% recorded by female voices”.
Interestingly though, there is an exception to this strong trend. If we look at business-to-business presentations, only 38% were recorded by female talents.
Research indicates that people consider womanly voices trustworthy and helpful. But although we have made a lot of progress in getting women heard, could there still potentially be a global view that a feminine voice is deemed more nurturing or secretarial, whilst a male voice is considered more business-like and authoritative?
Theories about the female voice
According to Rebecca Zorach, director of the Social Media Project at the University of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, that could still be the case:
“Voices intended to convey authority (such as voice-over narration in films) tend to be male. So yes, probably these compliant female robot voices reinforce gender stereotypes, not just because they serve the user but because the technology itself is about communication and relationships (areas that women are presumed to be good at).”
We think this is an interesting theory!
An article in The New York Times mentions another interesting issue on why developers of technology might prefer to use ladylike voices. “Owners of devices are not threatened by them — and thus are less inclined to question how much data they are collecting, and what it might be used for”.
We hope that these fascinating theories are not truly the reason for this very clear pattern of gender assignment within voiceover work. But we think they are compelling nonetheless.
What’s the verdict?
So, is it wrong if a company wants a female voice for telephone recordings because humans instinctively pre-judge a feminine voice to be more welcoming? Or if technology developers use a female voice because we subconsciously consider it more helpful and less intimidating?
VTO says “Absolutely not”. The fact that we are already asking ourselves these questions shows how far we have moved forward! Let’s celebrate the progress made to-date. 68% of our worldwide customer projects have been voiced by women! Two thirds! As a voiceover company, we can genuinely say that we are playing our part in making the female voice heard today… and maybe even taking over in the future 😊