Listeners’ Ability to Identify the Gender of Preadolescent Children in Different Linguistic Contexts

Shawn Nissen, Sharalee Blunck, Anita Dromey, Christopher Dromey


This study evaluated listeners’ ability to identify the gender of preadolescent children from speech samples of varying length and linguistic context. The listeners were presented with a total of 190 speech samples in four different categories of linguistic context: segments, words, sentences, and discourse. The listeners were instructed to evaluate each speech sample and decide whether the speaker was a male or female and rate their level of confidence in their decision. Results showed listeners identified the gender of the speakers with a high degree of accuracy, ranging from 86% to 95%. Significant differences in listener judgments were found across the four levels of linguistic context, with segments having the lowest accuracy (83%) and discourse the highest accuracy (99%). At the segmental level, the listeners’ identification of each speaker’s gender was greater for vowels than for fricatives, with both types of phoneme being identified at a rate well above chance. Significant differences in identification were found between the /s/ and /ʃ/ fricatives, but not between the four corner vowels. The perception of gender is likely multifactorial, with listeners possibly using phonetic, prosodic, or stylistic speech cues to determine a speaker’s gender.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-1865

Cite as: Nissen, S., Blunck, S., Dromey, A., Dromey, C. (2019) Listeners’ Ability to Identify the Gender of Preadolescent Children in Different Linguistic Contexts. Proc. Interspeech 2019, 286-290, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-1865.


@inproceedings{Nissen2019,
  author={Shawn Nissen and Sharalee Blunck and Anita Dromey and Christopher Dromey},
  title={{Listeners’ Ability to Identify the Gender of Preadolescent Children in Different Linguistic Contexts}},
  year=2019,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2019},
  pages={286--290},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2019-1865},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2019-1865}
}