Why Alexa Instead of Alex

Stereotypes inhabit comfort zones. Virtual assistants tend to be “female” in name and voice because, basically, people are more comfortable telling women what to do. Ramona Pringle at CBC News examines the trend in “Digital Sexism: Why Are All Virtual Assistants Women?

“Companies cite all sorts of research in their decision to make bots female. …  male voices are perceived as being more authoritative, whereas female voices are understood to be more helpful and supportive. These preconceptions carry over into synthetic voices, which essentially means that even computers are gender stereotyped.”

This practice reinforces the image of the subservient female every time a virtual assistant is used. The time to make a conscious decision to flout this convention is now.

Cynthia Murrell, January 19, 2017

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