Ask Siri to self-identify, and you’ll get an existential, but noncommittal answer. For most consumers’ ears, however, Siri—Norse for “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”—has a decidedly feminine voice. Siri isn’t alone in the sorority of feminine digital assistants. She joins a lineage that started in 1952 with Bell Labs’ Audrey, who could recognize spoken numbers. Since then, technology companies have produced an array of female digital assistants, including Viv, Alexa, Cortana, and Ooma.
More recently, a couple of male voices have joined the chorus, including Google Assistant’s Voice II and Samsung’s Bixby. But Bixby was lambasted on the Internet as sexist, and Voice II’s very name implies that it is a token feature. Even Siri now has a male-voice alternative, but the name and default setting say it all.
After more than six decades of voice assistants, it’s time to ask an uncomfortable question: Why do we—Americans, anyway—prefer female voices for our digital assistants? Read More
There is a direct correlation between users’ perceptions of a technology’s capabilities and their satisfaction with that technology. When user expectations exceed those capabilities, user satisfaction suffers. Read More