Does Sexism in the Voice Over Industry Exist

As a female voice over actor, how would you describe yourself? What adjectives do you use in your profile or website?

If you go through female voice over profiles it would be very rare to read words like STRONG, AUTHORITATIVE, RELIABLE and CONFIDENT. More often, what you would read are words like sexy, sultry, elegant, motherly, fun and playful.  The words strong, authoritative, reliable and confident are in fact only in seen in 3 out of 10 profiles. These words or their equivalent, are more likely to be seen on a male voice over profile, plus other words like, sexy and fun. Does this mean that most women do not perceive themselves as strong and confident? It may look like then that because women have been typed-cast for so long as the “fair” sex, they have now resigned themselves to the thought that only men can be the voice of reason and authority, and that majority of women talents have recourse to marketing themselves as such.

Is the industry and the consumers influencing this disparity in the way men and women market themselves?

In a study on audio/visual media’s gender representation and consumer perception by Mark Pedelty, an Associate Professor in Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota, it says that men and women in the voice over and commercial industry have assigned themselves to specific roles, and this is where it is a good idea to enlist the services of voice over actor classes online. While women were given domestic and nurturing roles, men on the other hand, are likely get the authoritative and powerful characters. Also, in a content analysis of over a thousand television commercials, Pedelty learned that the male voice over outnumbered the women represented, four to one.

In the same study it revealed that men can either be a voice over or represented by both attractive and unattractive men, however in the case of women, they are largely represented by only fit and attractive women.

In previous studies done on voice overs in advertisements would show the same gross difference in the representation of men and women. In a 1975 study, it showed over 90% of voice over work were done my men and the percentage remained stayed the same even after then years. By 1998, there was a 10% increase in women representation, which is consistent with Pedelty’s recent findings.

The slow progress in the increase in the voice over training online for women and how they are represented only demonstrates that even in the twenty-first century women are still objectified and would only get noticed when seen and not heard. The results of this study show that sexism still dominates as the marketing tool used in the advertising industry.

Is this dominance of the male gender in the audio and visual media deeply influenced by our culture and our perception of genders in general?  Or is it more of an assumption made by advertisers of what the current audience would like to see and hear?  Can a drastic change by key media players shorten the gender gap? Let us know in the comments section below.