Gender inclusivity has been a big talking point in recent yearsand it’s an issue the tech industry has always struggled with. There’s bias in places you might not have even considered. What do Siri, Alexa, and Cortana have in common? They’re all virtual assistants designed to serve usand they’re all voiced by women.

Many people have expressed concern that female voices are typically used in virtual roles associated with servitude; whether it’s your smartphone assistant or the default setting on your GPS.

Now, a group of linguists, developers and sound designers are seeking to drive positive change. And they’re not just trying to tackle the representation of women in tech. Their goals are more ambitiousthey want to break down the perception that gender is binary, moving away from male and female stereotypes completely.

They’ve created what they claim is the “first ever genderless voice”, called Q, in the hope that this will encourage greater inclusivity and provide representation for individuals who don’t identify as male or female.

As society continues to break down the gender binary, recognising those who neither identify as male nor female, the technology we create should follow.

The creators of Q

Here at Gloo HQ, we’ve listened to Q speaking and we can’t make up our minds. Some of the team think it sounds female and several others think it errs towards male, and some of us think it’s struck the balance perfectly. It’s an interesting psychoacoustic experiment and it’s certainly challenged our perceptions.

Take a listen and let us know what you think; is this the world’s first truly genderless voice?

Disclaimer: Apple does give users the option to select a male voice for Siri, but the default is always female.

Posted by John on 3 April 2019