Who run the world? Girls.
Well, more specifically, we like to think female voice overs do. But is that the case? This International Women’s Day we thought we’d celebrate the female voice over. Starting with some startling facts…
Societal Attributes of the Female Voice Over
Studies over the past few years have taken an in-depth look at male vs female voices and how they can affect our perceptions. Perhaps even to the point of practical application to sway the audience in advertising.
Historically speaking in western society, women were often encouraged to be the silent counterpart to a male world. They were perceived to be the matron – a motherly figure, soft and caring for those around them. Matters of business were left strictly to male counterparts as they were more headstrong and powerful. While society has changed, women now have the vote, a better footing, and more rights than they used to, how much does the historical influence of a woman’s ‘place’ still prevail in the voice over world?
The Harris Interactive/Adweek poll of 2010 is widely regarded as a comprehensive report on public opinion of voice overs. It found some intriguing results. Overall, it seems most people don’t find a particular gender more persuasive over another. A good deal of pollsters found neither gender more dominant over the other in how soothing or forceful they were.
The initial numbers above are all rather close, however, it is the secondary results which show the disparity. After the initial indifferent voters, the next majorities of preference were a whopping 46% who found female voice over to be soothing, and 48% who voted male voices as forceful. 28% believed a male voice would be more likely to sell them a car, and only 7% said a female voice would be able to. A similar difference is found when selling technology. Could these preferences tie-in to the ‘forceful’ findings? What other sectors may be influenced this way? Perhaps the “Voice of God” comes to mind…
“Voice of God”
A breakthrough in the discussion of gender disparity in the industry came about with the release of In A World… (2013). The comedy follows a female voice over trying to break into the world of movie trailers. It encourages conversation around why the voice over industry is so male dominated. Is it societal? Are we conditioned to find one male voice over more persuasive than a female? Or perhaps they are more memorable, as some studies suggest? Maybe the key is in the colloquial term itself: “Voice of God”? By referring to God as a He historically, could it be that these preconceptions have transferred into the creative approach of the omnipresent voice?
All we know is we wouldn’t mind hearing some of our girls give it a whirl…
In fact, here are a few corporate trailers for you to have a listen. Could the female voice have more power than the “Voice of God” gives it credit for?
Voiced by Maite Jauregui
Voiced by Anna Cordell
Voiced by Wendy Wang