Is the Digital Assistant Game… Sexist?
Digital assistants like Alexa and Siri make our lives easier. We can control our homes, pay for stuff, check the news, update our social media, etc. But when you stop to think about it, there’s something seriously wrong with this picture. In fact, there isn’t a single digital assistant from a major tech company that is male by default. With more women in tech than ever before, this decision by companies like Amazon and Apple comes off feeling distinctly sexist.
However, women in tech still aren’t the norm, and they still far outnumber men in administrative assistant positions (it’s still the most common job for women). In 2015, 94.5 percent of people in these roles were women. That. Is. Staggering.
And guess who outnumbers whom in top executive roles? If your guess was women, you’d be wrong. In 2015, women held only five percent of chief executive positions in Fortune 500 companies. As of September 2016, women only hold 6.9 percent of chief executive roles at Fortune 1000 companies. Even though there is a hiring law that was passed in 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on sex, it’s clearly still an issue. It’s 53 years later and yet, here we are.
Alexa, Cortana, Siri and even Google Assistant are female-voiced by default (while you can change Siri’s voice, female is still the out-of-the-box option). Additionally, all except Google Assistant also possess female gender-conforming names, which makes bossing the assistant around a little harder to stomach. We can’t escape gender roles — even when we’re dealing with devices.
Do you use a digital assistant? What do you think about these companies’ choices of voices? Tell us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)