And it’s still the case that when we hear a woman’s voice as part of a technology product, we may not know who she is, whether she’s real at all, and if so, whether she agreed to have her voice used that way. Many TikTok users have assumed that the text-to-speech voice they heard in the app is not a real person. But it was: it belonged to a Canadian voice actor named Bev Standing, and Standing never gave permission to ByteDance, the company that owns TickTock, to use it.
Standing sued the company May, stating that the ways in which her voice was used – especially the way users could get her to say anything, including swearing – harmed her brand and her ability to make a living. Her voice that became known as “that voice on TikTok” that you could make you say whatever you liked brought recognition without compensation and, she claimed, hurt her ability to get a voice work.
Then, when TikTok abruptly removed her voice, Standing learned the same thing the rest of us had done — hearing the change and reporting on it. (TikTok did not comment to reporters on the vote change.)
Those familiar with the story of Apple’s Siri may feel a little dej vu: Susan Bennett, the woman who voiced the original Siri, I also didn’t know that her voice was used for that product until it came out. Bennett was eventually replaced as “the female voice of American England,” and Apple never publicly acknowledged she. Since then, Apple has included secrecy clauses in the voice actors’ contracts, and recently claimed that its new vote “fully software generated, ”Removing the need to give recognition to anyone.
These incidents reflect a worrying and common pattern in the technology industry. The way in which people’s achievements are valued, recognized and paid for often reflects their position in the wider society rather than their actual contribution. One of the reasons why the names Bev Standing and Susan Bennett are now widely known on the internet is that they are extreme examples of how women’s work is erased even when it is there for everyone to see – or hear.
When technological women speak, they are often told to calm down – especially if they are women in color. Timnit Gebru, who received his doctorate in computer science from Stanford, recently kicked out of Google, where she co-led the artificial intelligence ethics team, after speaking about it concerns in connection with the great linguistic models of the company. Her co-host, Margaret Mitchell (who holds a PhD from the University of Aberdeen with a focus on natural language generation), is also removed from his position after speaking of Gebru’s firing. Elsewhere in the industry whistleblowers love it Sophie Zhang on Facebook, Susan Fowler in Uber and many other women they found themselves silenced and often fired as a direct or indirect result of attempts to do business and mitigate the damage they saw in the technology companies in which they worked.
Even women who have found startups can be erased in real time, and the problem is again worse for women of color. Rumman Chowdhury, who received her doctorate from the University of California, San Diego and is the founder and former CEO of Parity, a company focused on ethical AI, has seen her role in the history of her company. minimized published by the New York Times.