Women's voices sound different in virtual meetings, new study finds

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
(iStock)
(iStock)

Virtual meetings have become ubiquitous since Covid-19, setting off new anxieties for employees and executives alike. Is the suit jacket covering the sweatpants? Will the kids or the cat interrupt the meeting?

Turns out that if you’re a woman, how you sound may be a bigger concern.

New research into video conferencing platforms reveals that services like Zoom, Skype and Teams don’t transmit all sounds equally well.

Voices are compressed and not all frequencies survive the process intact, according to Oliver Niebuhr, an associate professor at the Centre for Industrial Electronics at Syddansk Universitet and assistant professor Ingo Siegert from the University of Magdeburg.

Particularly affected are the voices of women, which end up sounding less expressive and therefore less charismatic than men’s, the researchers said. Bad internet connections worsen the effect, they said, and called for the technology to improve.

The recommendation comes amid signs that businesses will continue to use virtual meetings even as economies re-open.

“If you want to convince a person of something, then it is essential that you appear charismatic. You need to have that person’s full attention,” Niebuhr said. “Our voice is extremely important in that context - especially in a context where body language is taken out of the equation, as is the case in a video meeting.”

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
13.78
-0.3%
Rand - Pound
19.44
-0.2%
Rand - Euro
16.70
-0.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.63
-0.3%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.2%
Gold
1,865.95
-0.6%
Silver
27.84
-0.3%
Palladium
2,755.00
-0.9%
Platinum
1,168.39
+1.5%
Brent Crude
72.69
+0.2%
Top 40
61,654
+0.3%
All Share
67,942
+0.3%
Resource 10
65,584
-0.3%
Industrial 25
88,227
+0.7%
Financial 15
13,721
+0.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Have you noticed a difference in the voices of women compared to men in virtual meetings?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, there is a difference.
24% - 39 votes
No, I haven't noticed it.
66% - 108 votes
A bad internet connection worsens it.
10% - 17 votes
Vote