Voice Quality and Gender Stereotypes: A Study of Lebanese Women With Reinke's Edema
Baider, Fabienne H.
SourceJournal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research (Online)
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Women with Reinke's edema (RW) report being mistaken for men during telephone conversations. For this reason, their masculine-sounding voices are interesting for the study of gender stereotypes. The study's objective is to verify their complaint and to understand the cues used in gender identification. Using a self-evaluation study, we verified RW's perception of their own voices. We compared the acoustic parameters of vowels produced by 10 RW to those produced by 10 men and 10 women with healthy voices (hereafter referred to as NW) in Lebanese Arabic. We conducted a perception study for the evaluation of RW, healthy men's, and NW voices by naïve listeners. RW self-evaluated their voices as masculine and their gender identities as feminine. The acoustic parameters that distinguish RW from NW voices concern fundamental frequency, spectral slope, harmonicity of the voicing signal, and complexity of the spectral envelope. Naïve listeners very often rate RW as surely masculine. Listeners may rate RW's gender incorrectly. These incorrect gender ratings are correlated with acoustic measures of fundamental frequency and voice quality. Further investigations will reveal the contribution of each of these parameters to gender perception and guide the treatment plan of patients complaining of a gender ambiguous voice.