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Voice & Gender Perception

May 26, 2016

Subtle vocal cues lead us to perceive voices as feminine or masculine.



Clear speech and femininity. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

While low voices are considered masculine and high voices feminine, there are other vocal characteristics people regard as male or female. At a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, University of Utah speech language pathology researcher Jaime Booz reports that clear speech – leaving space between words, and varying both pitch and volume for emphasis – is regarded as feminine, while more monotonous speech is considered masculine.

JAIME BOOZ (University of Utah):

Using a clear speaking style made a statistically significant difference in perception of femininity and that effect was bigger for male talkers than for female talkers.


He said it’s not known why clear speech sounds more feminine. But it’s useful information in his work coaching people who are honing their speaking style – especially transgender individuals who want to feel comfortable with their voice. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.