How Radio Makes Female Voices Sound Shrill

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"Shrill" popped back up in the national lexicon in the coverage of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid, and again, in a 2020 race filled with female candidates. "This spike in usage is hardly a revelation," writes University of Florida professor Tina Tallon, in a piece for The New Yorker. "Women who speak publicly and challenge authority have long been dismissed as 'shrill' or 'grating.'" But these slurs are not just the product of age-old misogynistic stereotypes. Biases against female voices were perniciously exacerbated by the broadcast technology that powers radio and audio recording technology. They're designed to thin higher frequency voices and enrich lower ones. In this interview from 2019, she and Brooke revisit the proliferation of radio in the 1920's and 1930's, when our ears were trained to prefer listening to men talk, and reflect on how societal gender standards have been shaped since.

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