Voice overs have been working hard for many years. They are the voices behind thousands of brands throughout the years. Usually, brands choose voice overs dependent on the target audience and what they want to portray. Over the years, brands and the world have changed, but have voice overs changed as much?
Sexism and the History of Voice Over Acting
The Voice Over Herald reports men identify themselves as strong, authoritative, reliable and confident. Female voice overs identify themselves as sexy, sultry, elegant, motherly, fun and playful. In the research, only three out of ten profiles of female voice overs identified themselves as strong, authoritative, reliable and confident.
The history of voice over acting shows that women may have taken their stereotypical roles and accepted them as who they are. That’s why they identify themselves with those qualities, while men identify themselves with stereotypical male qualities.
Times are changing though. Females are no longer only viewed as the passive, nurturing, and romantic ones all the time. Many of them have broken away from those labels and see themselves as confident, authoritative, reliable and strong.
What does this mean for the voice over industry?
Unfortunately, not much. In a study by Mark Pedelty from the University of Minnesota, it has to do with consumers’ perceptions. Society continues to see females as the ones who should take the nurturing and domestic roles, while men take the more powerful, authoritative ones. Brands continue to use voice overs considering these qualities, so even those females may feel they are confident, authoritative and strong, it’s really what the public believes that matters in the industry.
What needs to be addressed though is that more female voice overs are being considered because of the change in women’s roles. For example, when a brand wants to target a female audience of strong, professional, confident business women, they want to use voice overs with the same qualities. Forty years ago, women did not work in business, so there was no need for voice overs that had those qualities.
What seems to have happened is that you have female voice overs which are perfect for the nurturing, motherly role, as well as female voice overs for the executive women population. You then have men voice overs representing the male population in the roles they’ve been taking for decades.
What does the future of voice overs look like? There will likely be more opportunities for female voice overs. As women continue to break into traditional male roles in society, female voice overs will break into roles that were traditionally for men. It may take some time before it’s equal, but it’s definitely heading in that direction.