The Guardian, reporting on a new study about voice pitch and dominance, writes:
Voters are also more likely to back candidates with lower voices, the research suggests, because they come across as more dominant and authoratiative.
Previous studies have linked deep voices to higher levels of testosterone, and the new study reveals how perceptions formed by our ancestors still hold true today.
Cara Tigue from McMaster University in Canada, who conducted the research, said: “We’re looking at men’s low voice-pitch as a cue to dominance, which is related to leadership.
“Throughout our evolutionary history, it would have been important for our ancestors to pay attention to cues to good leadership, because group leaders affected a person’s ability to survive and reproduce within a group.
Luke, I am your boss.
During our time working in Texas, my dad and I worked with a job site foreman named Jeff, a big, hard-scrabble guy with a domineering personality and a gruff voice but with enough of a blunted edge to get you to like him. Jeff was an alpha persona for a particular line of work that requires bossing other men around.
The simple thought occurred to me while I was up on a scissor lift blocking out the side of a corrugated building: the percentage of female Jeff’s in the world – female job-site forepersons out of all forepersons- has to be very near zero. A female could not command the respect or light the right size fires under the right asses in order to make her way in this line of work. People just wouldn’t want to listen to her as readily as they do to Jeff which would render her an ineffective leader. When you consider the career paths of millions of people and the tiny nudges that push them up corporate ladders, we can clearly see why executive ranks are mostly dominated by men.
This is why feminists hate evolutionary psychology, though they hate it for the wrong reasons. Evo psych doesn’t justify sexism. Evo psych justifies choices that tend to fall along sexually bifurcated lines.
Jeff’s leadership ability had to do with his physicality, including his gruffness in both voice and hard, weathered facial features. Some people just look like they’re ready to “go”, and when they back up their readiness with a confident aura that seems to lend them moral high ground, they tend to get respected. It is those that get respected in this way that continue upward towards the top of their organization. At its most basic, reptilian level, this is about fear, submission, and dominance.
So you can throw away arguments about sexism and glass-ceilings. Yes, it is probably true that men are selected for leadership roles, but it is not solely because they are men. It is because they have certain qualities that men tend to have. And since becoming a boss or CEO depends upon the perception of leadership ability, and since deeper voices and other displays that signal higher testosterone are associated with leadership ability, men that display these characteristics tend to be pushed into those types of positions.
Another vein to explore here: in this age of egalitarian idealism, many of the women who do achieve positions of leadership have a certain deep-voiced moral authority at their back. It is called the government, and it also has lawyers.