Women’s voices in tech are still being erased


When we hear a woman’s voice as part of a tech product, we may not know who she is, or even whether it’s real and, if so, whether she consents to having her voice used in this way. Many TikTok users assumed that the text-to-speech voice they heard in the app was not a real person. But it was: It belonged to a Canadian voice actor named Bev Standing, and Standing had not given ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, permission to use it.

on foot sued the company In May, she claimed that the ways her voice is used—particularly the way she gets users to say anything, including swearing—was hurting her brand and her ability to make a living. The recognition of his voice as “that voice on TikTok” brought recognition at no cost to being able to say whatever you want, and allegedly hurt his ability to do voice work.

Then, when TikTok abruptly removed its sound, Standing learned, as the rest of us did, by hearing the change and seeing reports about it. (TikTok did not make a statement to the press about the voice change.)

Those familiar with Apple’s Siri story may be feeling a bit of deja vu: Susan Bennett, the woman who voiced the original Siri, I also didn’t know He said that his voice was used until that product came out. Bennett was eventually renamed “US British female voice” and Apple never made public him. Since then, Apple has written confidentiality clauses into the voice actors’ contracts, and finally, “completely software produced“It removes the need to give credit to anyone.

These events reflect a troubling and pervasive pattern in the tech industry. The way people’s achievements are recognized, recognized, and paid for often reflect their position in wider society, not their actual contribution. One reason Bev Standing’s and Susan Bennett’s names are now widely known on the Internet is that they are extreme examples of how women’s work is being erased, even when it’s in a place where everyone can see or hear it.

The way people’s achievements are recognized, recognized, and paid for often reflect their position in wider society, not their actual contribution.

When women in tech talk, especially women of color, they are often told to be quiet. Timnit Gebru, who holds a PhD in computer science from Stanford, recently kicked out of googleAfter talking about himself, he led an AI ethics team by helping out. concerns Regarding the company’s major language models. Its co-leader Margaret Mitchell (a PhD with a focus on natural language generation from the University of Aberdeen) is also removed from position After talking about the expulsion of Gebru. Elsewhere in the industry, informants Sophie Zhang On Facebook, Susan Fowler at Uber and many other women As a direct or indirect result of trying to do their jobs and mitigate harm at the tech companies they work for, they have been silenced and often fired.

Even women who are starting new entrepreneurs can find themselves wiped out in real time, and the problem is even worse for black women. Rumman Chowdhury, who holds a PhD from the University of California, San Diego, and is the founder and former CEO of Parity, a company focused on ethical artificial intelligence, has seen his role in the history of his company. scaled down by the New York Times.


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