For a long period of time, women were scarcely seen on the news, and the reasons why were bizarre. In fact, renowned journalist, Carole Simpson, was told early in her career that “women don’t like to hear other women on the air.”
According to one prospective employer, women’s voices are shrill and lacked authority. Another noted that news coming out of their mouths “sounds like gossip.”
Clearly incensed by the injustice, Simpson worked to deepen her voice. She succeeded and credited it to taking theater in school.
Then, in 1992, she was called to moderate a presidential debate between George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.
According to instructions relayed to her, an “Oprah-style town hall” was needed. Now, in to the fifth Democratic presidential debate, eight women will speak on camera as both candidates and moderators.
The moderator lineup boasts of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, veteran NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell, NBC reporter Kristen Welker and Ashley Parker of The Washington Post.
According to Pat Mitchell, former president of PBS and CNN. “Stereotypes still continue about what authority looks like, what power looks like, what credibility looks like.”
Admittedly, women and men have different speech patterns. Young women, in particular, tend to have more versatile intonation. They place more emphasis on certain words; they are playful with language and have shorter and thinner vocal cords, which produce a higher pitch.
Another prominent former politician, Margaret Thatcher trained to deepen her voice to give herself more authority. Claims of being too “shrill” dogged Hillary Clinton in both of her campaigns for the presidency.
Also, during the 2018 World Cup Vicki Sparks became the first woman to announce a men’s World Cup match live on British television. Unfortunately, she was criticized for being too “high pitched”.
Also, in an article, it was noted that when it comes to listener complaints about its newscasters’ voices, the “vast majority” are directed at women and reporters of color.