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Why do AI voice assistants default to female voices?

Paper art depicting a laptop computer with a robot on the screen with a chat bubble next to its head.
Carol Yepes

Have you noticed that voice assistants like Alexa and Siri default to female voices?

This hour, we talk about how artificial intelligence is reinforcing gender biases.

Plus, a look at how representations of artificial intelligence in pop culture have contributed to this model.


  • Kerry McInerney: Research fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence and co-host of The Good Robot Podcast
  • Deborah Tannen: Distinguished university professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and author of You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, among other books
  • Lisa Yaszek: Regents professor of science fiction studies in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech

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Colin McEnroe, Jonathan McNicol, Cat Pastor, and Lizzie Van Arnam contributed to this show, which originally aired March 6, 2023.

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Lily is the senior producer for The Colin McEnroe Show. She first worked at Connecticut Public as an intern in 2014. She has previously worked for WBUR, KUNC and as a producer for the New England News Collaborative's weekly show Next. Lily can be reached at ltyson@ctpublic.org.