Why are all digital assistants female?


Just something I was thinking about today. Like why do we almost always identify the role of a personal assistant with a woman.

I mean, take the personal assistants on the top mobile platforms –

  1. Siri
  2. Google Now
  3. Cortana

From the above, Siri and Cortana quite evidently had female voices upon their launch, with everyone even referring to them as “her”. Cortana though could have only been female (as she was based off a beloved video-game character), so Microsoft doesn’t take such a bad hit. But Siri on the other hand, predominantly featured a female voice and only recently did Apple add an option to have male voice.

Google Now is the odd one out of the bunch. It’s the only assistant without any inherent “personality”. It’s the most intelligent assistant out there for sure, but you can’t have a conversation with it the way you can do with Siri and Cortana. But returning to my earlier point, even Google Now features a female voice by default, though you can go change it to male from settings apparently (I’ve never tested this though, so can’t say for sure). I’m just trying to decipher the rationale behind this. Is a female voice more pleasing/warm to the ears? Do humans usually look forward to having a woman take care of them? Or is there something else entirely here that I’m missing?

And also I may be wrong here, but isn’t it true that our society also looks lowly upon male nannies, male nurses and so on? Looks like we haven’t completely broken free of rigid gender role notions. Yet. There are still some jobs in the world which we believe one gender is better suited to perform.

I mean, when you close your eyes and think “personal assistant”, is the image that comes up ever of a man?

11 thoughts on “Why are all digital assistants female?

  1. Very profound and deep connections from just digital assistants. It could be that female voices are more pleasing and that comes from inherent assumption (!) that females are kind, pleasing and caregivers. It is true that male nannies and nurses are looked lowly, I don’t even know if India has them. And ofcourse we haven’t broken free of gender roles even in developed countries. The whole concept of feminism (the real one) cannot be achieved unless males are also considered caregivers and not just by working towards making women empowered. Males have to be empowered enough to break gender roles and be confident in those positions that have been looked upon all these years at home and outside . Another perspective being, with Cortana, Siri, Google maps – Females know everything 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’d be suicide to be a male nurse in India for sure 😛 Though I think the situation is not much better elsewhere too.
      The society, even more so in a patriarchal one like India, pressurizes a man to show his masculinity (or upper-hand) whenever possible which I think is partly the reason why there is a certain amount of shame involved with doing certain jobs. We do seem to be reaching an equilibrium, but there is still a long way to go. (And sometimes I wonder if people really do desire such kind of gender-equality after all!)

      As for whether females know everything or not, well that’s quite debatable now 😉 But I do believe there is a certain amount of trust and camaraderie/comfort involved when the person answering to you is a woman. Maybe also the reason why we prefer female housekeepers to male? I dunno.
      Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well in this case I actually saw male flight attendants when I flew with SpiceJet so yup, it’s not a female-only job anymore I guess! 🙂 I don’t think they’re called airhosts though, just “flight attendants”!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Totally true! I never thought it that way. But can’t agree enough. A good read this was.
    It’s super coincidental of how I was just thinking about how since Siri and Cortana both happen to be girls, they probably would end up giving me the wrong directions to an already late meeting that I’m supposed to be at. Call me crazy but I devised this theory because the female population doesn’t entirely love their own gender’s company sometimes. Ya know 😛 Just a bubble of thought.
    Who knows when Cortana might get jealous of how my hair is super on-point for a day and completely turn against me out of jealousy? Minds think a lot, Uday. And probably even virtual ones (or not, really. lol).

    Ohh also, I had no idea that Cortana was based on a character from Halo. That’s really cool! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha lol! See, that’s exactly what I was thinking!! For us men, I can understand how it’d be nice to chat up with a lady (albeit virtual) and tell her “I love you” once in a while 😛 But I never got how women would like the idea of having another women in their smartphones! I’m sure you’d be excited to have a male assistant, won’t you?? 😉
      Also with the rate Artificial Intelligence is increasing, the scenarios you mentioned could totally come true one day, lol! 😀 (On that note, have you seen the movie “Her”?? If not, watch it ASAP!)

      And yea, Cortana was indeed based off a fan-favorite character from Halo. Me and my friends submitted feedback to Microsoft to call the Indian version as “Keerthana” (perfectly good local name, no?) but of course it never took off, because then she wouldn’t be Cortana 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hahaha. You bet I would love a guy who sits there waiting for me to talk to him. You bet. 😀
        OKAY, I SHALL. I just watched the trailer and I already love it. :O ❤ seriously.
        LOL, genius! Keerthana sounds just right. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Interesting observation. Even after I read your post, I can’t imagine a male voice giving me the directions(GPS) or a male receptionist at the desk or a male nanny. It just seems so odd. May be it’s the gentle attitude that we are craving for.

    Liked by 1 person

I love it when you comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s