Professor McEnaney quoted in the New York Times. Congratulations!

​Congratulations to Professor McEnaney, who is quoted in a recent article in ​The New York Times, “What Do We Hear When Women Speak?” (11/20/19).  The article, which focuses on perceptions of women’s voices in the context of the most recent Democratic presidential debate, draws on Professor McEnaney’s research and teaching in the emerging field of Sound Studies:

In a course called “Sounding American,” at the University of California at Berkeley, Tom McEnaney, a professor of comparative literature and Portuguese and Spanish, teaches that there is in fact a sound that people associate with authority in this country — and, while it is constantly evolving, it has its roots in many things, one of which is early broadcast technology. Dating back to the phonograph, he said, engineers had created a device that was designed for the male voice — newscasters, presidents, public figures — to the extent that if a woman spoke into it, her voice would sound distorted, thin or scrambled.  […]

 “So there was a bias in the engineering. That bias in the engineering produced distortion, which was mistakenly associated with women’s voices, and then listeners […] used that association as the justification for their ongoing prejudice against women’s voices,” Professor McEnaney said. “And those carry up to the present day.”

The full article can be found at: