Why Women’s Voices Are Getting Deeper

Why Women’s Voices Are Getting Deeper

I first became curious about the power of
our voices a few months back when I read about Margaret Thatcher changing her voice over
decades to sound less shrill. The Queen also has altered her voice over
a long period of time more recently it’s been reported that Elizabeth
Holmes potentially lowered the pitch of her voice. So, I wondered:
Ladies, why are we lowering our voices? The way you speak is part genetic – like how
long your neck is, and part learned – like the valley girl accent. So no one sounds quite like you – your voice
and all its qualities are as unique as your face: Your intensity, pitch, tone and nasality. This is all relatively straightforward. Though things get weird when we start to make
judgements about other people based on their voice. One voice expert, Professor Carolyn McGettigan
writes that “in vocal communication, we adopt a variety of selves.” And after I highlighted this I spoke to her
and she said, “I can adjust my pitch. I can adjust my intonation. If I had chosen to, when I moved to mainland
UK, I could have started to speak with an English accent to try and fit in a bit more.” So depending on what self people want to portray, “when you hear a voice, you’re always hearing
that combination of the physiology of that person and the way they use the instrument
of the voice”. And the way people use the instrument of their
voice can have pretty big implications. The 2012 election for the House of Representatives
in the U.S. is particularly noteworthy as researchers in South Florida analysed the
voices of almost 800 candidates running for almost every seat. They wanted to know if one feature of candidate’s
voices influenced election outcomes: namely, their pitch. Now a lot of judgements we make about other
people from their voices are based on pitch – you know, the relative highness or lowness
of your voice. It’s worth nothing that Men speak, on average,
an octave lower than women. So… that experiment I mentioned found that
both male and female candidates with lower voices were more likely to win elected office. In a separate study, people preferred lower
pitched voices of past U.S. presidents AND rated those speakers as having greater integrity
and physical prowess This seems to suggest pitch affects your popularity. But does it affect how competent you are? How good you are at your job? Can you actually gauge that from a voice? In animals, vocal sounds signal their size
and ability to defend themselves. Which does indicate competence and strength…
if you’re a deer. Unlike animals, though, low pitch in human
voices isn’t directly tied to the size of the person. Yet in the human world, we still rate men
with low-pitched voices as more attractive and across gender we’re more likely to elect
officials with deeper voices. So the researchers followed up by collecting
samples of the voices of Members of the 109th U.S. Congress and their power rankings – basically
how effective they are at politics. they analysed voice pitch and mapped it to
this power ranking and…. nothing. Voice pitch doesn’t have any relationship
with leadership ability. Yet researchers in South Australia have found
that the average pitch of women’s voices has dropped by 23 Hz over the past 50 years
(like here to here). And, they speculated, because over time women
have adopted a deeper tone to project authority and dominance in the workplace. In addition to Australia, women’s voices
have grown deeper in Canada the US and Sweden since the 1950s. It blows my mind that pitch not only influences
who we vote for, but this belief that lower pitched voices are more competent has led
to generations of people lowering their voices. The next time you’re listening to an interview
or a speech or a presentation – analyse the
words. Because the
pitch isn’t always perfect.

100 thoughts on “Why Women’s Voices Are Getting Deeper”

  1. It REALLY fascinates me that the perception that lower-pitched voices indicate more competence, authority and integrity has led to generations of women lowering their voices when there is no data either in the real world or the lab to support this. Also, the change in pitch lowering is tied to the period when women entered the workforce in large numbers.
    These beliefs about pitch are somewhat a relic from evolution when pitch did indicate size and physical prowess and such (now it doesn't necessarily indicate the size of the person). Anyway, I didn't dig into Elizabeth Holmes any deeper because her faking her voice is somewhat speculative, but if she did you have all the reasons here about why she would do that :p
    Thanks for watching!

  2. ive been bullied a lot especially as a child because of my deep voice so it's kind of funny and a little sad that deeper voices in women are more respected now. Because of the bullying I got a thing where I talk super high around strangers and in social situations, including on the phone and it's so different and I don't even notice it that my friends point it out all the time.

  3. I have a very deep voice (for a woman), so this makes me feel much better. I talk in a higher pitch only when I’m uncomfortable or in a new social situation.

  4. Higher usually = insecurity
    Lower usually = confidence
    For actual confidence, evaluate the presentation of the speaker.

  5. I'm very aware that I change my voice all the time depending on where I am & who I'm with. I've also changed my accent at least a couple of times during my life to fit in with the local population & I could never date a man who doesn't have a deep tone. So I find this very interesting 👌

  6. As a man with an effeminate voice I definitely agree that this is a real pressure. I always lower my voice when I’m in job interviews, meetings, or just around a bunch of unfamiliar men. I’m sure the pressure to do so is much harder on women.

  7. When I am talking in my native language my voice it's deeper but when I am speaking English it's a bit pitched, more sweet maybe because I am not used to talk in English but when I am speaking spanish my voice gets deeper and I talk faster. I have read somewhere that multilingual people kinda of change their personality based on the language and I think it's quiet truth. Also, my voice gets high pitched when I am talking to babies or animals and high pitched and quiet when I am shy.

  8. I found this very interesting. I noticed that I change my voice throughout the day and I was wondering why I do that.

  9. Well the simple fucking answer is right in front of you people in power or business don’t want to sound fragile so obviously they’d avoid a softer tone

  10. to consider…..
    babies/children and animals/pets are more likely to obey a command in a lower pitch. why? because a high pitch equals hysteria, not control.
    the question shouldn't be why are women consciously lowering their pitch now, but how it ever got so screechy to begin with. or timid. or "sexy" whispery. or whatever. it certainly doesn't seem like something nature would do.
    and why does humanity feel the need to judge and compare everyone anyway? why must one always be "better" than another?

  11. I went back to your earliest videos and your past couple of videos and found you sounded noticeably deeper and the more recent videos , just a fun fact for you. ☺️
    (I didn't include this one where you were conscious of your voice)

  12. I believe the main reason we perceive this is higher pitched voices can sound childlike while deeper pitches signal maturity.
    I personally have caught myself doing the opposite. I have a very deep voice but depending on who I'm talking to and why, I often raise my pitch, maybe in an attempt to seem more friendly.
    I know other men who do this as well.
    I do not mind higher voices, what I do mind is ridiculous inflection and the type of voice that makes even statements sound like questions. It's not at all reassuring for someone to make a bold statement about something but voice it in the tone of a question. A deeper pitch said in a meaningful or direct, straightforward manner is definitely more confident sounding.

  13. I have always noticed that when I was in a service position (waitress, customer service), I would always raise the pitch of my voice. If I didn't people seemed to think they were bothering me or I was in a bad mood. When I would speak as Manager or with authority, I would often speak with a lower pitch. I found if I didn't lower it, I had a harder time even feeling like I was being stern enough for people to take me seriously.

  14. I have a semi-deep voice. Oh well. The only time I raise the pitch is when I'm mocking someone or trying to mimic Betty Boop or groom a certain person that I am a complete ditz and they let their guard down. Whatever works. XD

  15. Women still raise their voices depending on who they are speaking too, well i do anyway. I do especially when flirting, i can't help it. So, if it is traditionally seen as attractive for women to speak in a higher tone, maybe actresses just always spoke that way. Women are a bit more versitile now though.

  16. It seems like most women I hear have higher voices, but Scarlett Johansson's deep voice probably leads to imitation.

  17. I have a high pitch voice for a guy but I try not to think about it. If having a high pitched voice gets anyone down, just remember Lincoln is documented as having a high pitched voice but he's considered as one of the greatest US President of all time.

  18. I speak with a higher pitch when I talk on the phone at work. That way people don't assume my race. I have spoken at my normal tone and higher and I've had better results with a higher pitch in customer service roles.

  19. I'm sorry….I cannot identify with this. High pitched voices makes the owner seem weak and incompetent. I don't have a high pitched voice.

  20. My voice is so low, that it cracks.Boys at my school have asked me if I am a boy because of my voice.My voice is natural and can have a wide vocal range.

  21. I have a kind of high pitched and loud voice. It's very clear as well. (At least when I'm singing and while normally talking as well a bit). I am a very uncompetitive person and I don't really want to succeed or anything, and I am introverted.

  22. No matter how much you lower down the pitches of women, the people of USA 🇺🇸 are never going to elect a woman as President over some fool!!

  23. Where I work at constantly yelling to be heard over the background leads to this hoarse, deep voice in both men and women. Chemicals can also affect voice.

  24. The line between Prowess and lower pitched voices has to do with our association of knowledge. We tend to believe that when you have dominance on a subject you will gonna speech with a "Calm voice and controlled voice" which is confused with lower pitches.

    In another hand, when we're excited or nervous we tend do heighten our pitch and the syllables per second.

    So I dare to say that women didn't change their voice to look more influential, they are more influential and therefore they don't speech on a high voice. And that has to do with that they aren't afraid of speaking and discurse anymore.

  25. I think an interesting tangent to add to this subject would be dogs. My reasoning being that larger dogs typically having lower pitched barks compared to smaller dogs. So I wonder if this is a extension to some sort of survival instinct that lower pitch was a bigger more powerful creature to defend against or hunt.

  26. When I rode the school bus I randomly unintentionally I switched between accents depending on what I was talking about so everybody ended up being wildly confused on where I was from.

  27. Your sources would also suggest all human voices would be lower too. You said women perceive deeper men voices to be more sexually attractive and were more likely to be elected.

  28. "The pitch of women's voices has got lower over the last 50 years" … based on what evidence?

    I'm assuming that this has been measured using recorded voices from Film, TV and Music? However, does this take into account the improvements of recording technology over that period? Particularly in how bass frequencies are recorded. Very old movies and sound recordings always sound "tinny" because older microphone technology had difficulty catching the lower pitches.

  29. I cannot stand the modern tendency of women to use vocal fry when speaking. There is nothing at all attractive about a woman trying to sound more like a man.

  30. interesting! But: Are we still on braincraft? Cuz I'd be terribly interested about why specifically does anxiety for example raise your voice pitch. Your state of mind has such a insane impact on your voice quality… With that I'm not surprised that lower pitched voices seem more trustworthy, because if you're high pitched, it would indicate that you are nervous, rather than confident.

  31. Estrogen heightens your voice. Testosterone lowers your voice. Also how you breath and project your voice. And maybe accents I think. Oh and how about you use your brains and do thorough research into the science of voices if you're so bloody interested

  32. It's funny… I've been trying to make my voice higher since I was in my early 20's (36 now), because it's naturally on the lower side. I mostly do this because it seems like women with higher pitched voices are seen as more attractive and friendly. And, with my RBF, I need all the help I can get to appear friendly!

    So it's really fascinating (and fucked up) that you can't be attractive and friendly as a woman and still considered a strong leader. Says a LOT about our society.

  33. Doesn't the voice get lower with age on it's own?
    And could it not be genetic. Lower female voices are often seen as sexy could that not mean their genes are passed on more often or that as we get taller our necks get longer and affect our voices.

  34. If I had to make a guess at why people judge lower pitch voices as more confident, I would say it might be (in part) because stress increases the pitch of your voice.

  35. not relatable at all. i just use my natural voice? no altering whatsoever. how draining and exhausting would it be to constantly pay attention to your voice so much

  36. For some reason I througt that the difference was the due to the recording equipment was diifferent and rendered women voice highter

  37. I had a deeper voice in Germany. Then I moved to Denmark and struggled with learning the new language… I felt so insecure, that my voice became higher. Now it's as deep as it has been in my home country; perhaps even deeper.

  38. If anyone insists on using vocal fry when talking to me, I'm gonna try my best to avoid talking with them. It's like metal shredding metal against my ears.

  39. My voice was high around 4th grade and my voice suddenly got deeper around 5th grade and now my classmates told me my voice is hard and sounds like a boy-

  40. So this morning I was watching Thunderbirds (1965) on Amazon Prime but the internet would go out on the TV and I would go back to the local news while I reset it. I noticed a massive difference between the way women talked in 1965 (soft and feminine) and the horrifying way women sound today (shrill, barking sound).

  41. I got the sickness that is going around and today my voice sounds weird and when I scream it sounds weird I sound like a dying goat 😩

  42. My voice is deep due to my vocal cords being damaged from all the throat infections I frequently had and stomach acid from being sick as well.

  43. I like people more, the higher pitched they are. This affects not only attraction, but everything. I just find them more likeable and fun to listen to in general.

    That's why I listen to denpa music, the vocalists purposely go for an extremely bright and hight pitched tone. Honestly I wish someone like Wolfychu, or someone who sounded like Wolfychu, were my president. Because then I would actually enjoy hearing them speak.

  44. Generally one has a lower pitch when confident. This is true even when it comes to men. There's a psychological and a physical argument to that. But of course, it's more complicated than that.💕🎶🎸

  45. This is all bullshit. Its not women intentionally lowering their voice. Its that they are becoming more manly. Testosterone levels increasing in women.

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