They never say no or tell you you’re being rude. They don’t bristle when you fail to say “please” or “thank you,” and they’re always on call to answer questions any time of day or night. They’re virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa, and they’re overwhelmingly gendered female.
In a world where voice-activated tech is increasingly ubiquitous, this is a major setback for gender equality. The relentless chorus of female-voiced virtual assistants reinforces the stereotype that women are passive helpers, not leaders. As those assistants move into workplaces where women are already underrepresented at the top (as of 2018, women filled only 23% of C-suite roles), correcting their biases is even more urgent.