The Real Reason Most Virtual Assistants Have Female Voices

It was not too many years ago when virtual assistants seemed like the stuff of science fiction, but today, many of us don't think twice of interacting with disembodied voices called Siri and Alexa. Truly, we all live in the future, even if the future sometimes spams you with pictures of otters when all you wanted was information about the 2001 Nicole Kidman movie, The Others.

A weird thing about Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa that just occurred to us, though: How come they're distinctly female by default? In fact, the same question applies to virtually every "artificial intelligence" -style voice out there, from Microsoft's Cortana to various interactive voice systems. Sure, some devices have the option to choose a male voice, but the overall ratio is so skewed in favor of female voices that there must be some logic behind it. Let's see if we can find out the real reason most virtual assistants have female voices.

Turns out, female voices are just better for virtual assistants

Per Jake Rossen of Mental Floss, there's no single reason for virtual assistants having female voices. There are, in fact, several. The most simple one is that female voices simply resonate better with the audience when it comes to digital assistants. Test users for Alexa were all about the woman's voice, which itself pretty much warranted the choice. After all, the company did want to sell their product. The makers of Cortana at Microsoft, on the other hand, found out that the female voice is more effective than the male when it comes to projecting helpful trustworthiness. In contrast, there are theories that people find a male voice is more difficult to warm up to. 

Interestingly, there are also technological reasons to prefer the female voice. As Google discovered when they were working on their Google Assistant, it turns out text-to-speech programs have been "trained mostly on female voices." While they would have loved to include the option for a male voice, it was simply too big of a technological challenge to provide both.