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Voice Quality and Gender Stereotypes (Matar et al., 2016)

journal contribution
posted on 2022-02-23, 18:40 authored by Nayla Matar, Cristel Portes, Leonardo Lancia, Thierry Legou, Fabienne Baider
Purpose: Women with Reinke’s edema (RW) report being mistaken for men during telephone conversations. For this reason, their masculine-sounding voices are interesting for the study of gender stereotypes. The study’s objective is to verify their complaint and to understand the cues used in gender identification.
Method: Using a self-evaluation study, we verified RW’s perception of their own voices. We compared the acoustic parameters of vowels produced by 10 RW to those produced by 10 men and 10 women with healthy voices (hereafter referred to as NW) in Lebanese Arabic. We conducted a perception study for the evaluation of RW, healthy men’s, and NW voices by naïve listeners.
Results: RW self-evaluated their voices as masculine and their gender identities as feminine. The acoustic parameters that distinguish RW from NW voices concern fundamental frequency, spectral slope, harmonicity of the voicing signal, and complexity of the spectral envelope. Naïve listeners very often rate RW as surely masculine.
Conclusions: Listeners may rate RW’s gender incorrectly. These incorrect gender ratings are correlated with acoustic measures of fundamental frequency and voice quality. Further investigations will reveal the contribution of each of these parameters to gender perception and guide the treatment plan of patients complaining of a gender ambiguous voice.


This research was funded by the Conseil de la recherche de l’Université Saint-Joseph, Lebanon and by the CNRS, France (Projet PEPS, Défi Genre). Leonardo Lancia’s work, carried out within the Labex BLRI (Brain and Language Research Institute, ANR-11-LABX-0036) and ASLAN (Advanced Studies on Language complexity, ANR-10-LABX-0081), has benefited from support from the French government, managed by the French National Agency for Research (ANR), under the program Investissements d’Avenir (ANR-11-IDEX-0001-02 and AQ13 ANR-11-IDEX-0007).