Women’s Voices and Empowerment

Npr.org recently posted a video called Talking While Female on the negative perceptions about women’s voices.

Check it out here.

We’re happy to see NPR take on a subject of vital importance to women’s leadership- how our voices are perceived. Yet this only tells half the story- and leaves us disempowered. While it is true that most women have higher register voices than men, the sounds we make are also related to other factors such as our intention as speakers and our habits of speech. Both men and women are impacted by our social expectations of gender. Just as some men speak in a register that is too low for them, without emotional variance, that reinforces traditional expectations of masculinity, so too many women speak with a voice that reinforces the feminine by being too high and/or too soft. We need to accept women’s voices, yes, but also empower women with the knowledge that vocal patterns can change. By breathing more fully to increase volume without straining the vocal chords, using a lower pitch to emphasize and, an easy fix, avoiding raised pitch at the end of sentences, we train women leaders to speak so others listen. It’s often small adjustments like these but for those with narrower vocal range, we also recommend deeper work with our voice coach.

- Brigid Moynahan & Lucia Brizzi