Jippy Pang: A Deep Voice

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Jippy Pang says that among the many obstacles some women face in the workplace that men do not is the quality of their voice.

Those who have followed the rise and fall of Theranos these last few years will generally consider it a warning tale of how Silicon Valley companies can take the “fake it til you make it” mantra too far. They will also know that one of the more fascinating topics surrounding its disgraced former founder and CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, was the fact that it is widely claimed she artificially lowered the tone of her voice as part of her professional persona. I’ll not comment on the legal troubles she currently finds herself in, but as a woman who has always naturally had a deep voice, I can empathize with why she may have done this.

The unfortunate reality is that the pitch of a woman’s voice is routinely scrutinized in different ways depending on the setting. As a child, I was sometimes teased by others over how deep my voice was because it was perceived as “different.” As a typically self-conscious young adult, I was mortified whenever someone mistakenly referred to me as “sir” over the phone, and I will admit that at times I tried to make my voice higher to ensure that it came across as feminine enough.

It was not until I started my professional career that I truly came to accept the voice I have. It has been shown through studies that people with deeper voices tend to be taken more seriously at work, and I can only surmise that that is why Ms. Holmes supposedly lowered the register of hers in order to have a slightly easier time surviving in a male-dominated industry.

The irony of this entire situation is that this lower-toned voice that was once something I was ashamed of is now something that I consider to be an asset and a unique aspect of my identity. The pitch of one’s voice — which is something they are born with and can’t easily change — should not be a factor in how we perceive their intelligence, beauty, or skills.

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Your voice is part of who you are, and that should be enough.

With a Perspective, this is Jippy Pang.

Jippy Pang is a consulting leader in digital workplace software. She lives in Oakland.