Seen to Be Heard? Gender, Voice, and Body in Television Advertisements

Mark H Pedelty, Morgan Kuecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A quantitative content analysis of 1,055 television ads reveals that male voiceovers outnumber female voiceovers 4:1. As has been the case for decades in television, a man is much more likely to serve as the disembodied and objective voice of authority, expertise, and reason. However, a woman's voice is twice as likely to be heard if her body is also represented on screen. Based on that finding, the authors argue that scopocentric sexism influences when and how gendered voices are presented. A woman's relative agency, her recourse to "voice" in both the literal and metaphoric sense, is conditioned by her visual presence. After completing the quantitative content analysis, a qualitative textual analysis was conducted on a subsample of ads in order to explore relationships between voice and body at a finer-grained level. The study provides an important update for critical ad research concerning voiceovers and is the first that systematically compares voice and body data. The authors conclude by presenting ideas for integrating critical sound research into media literacy curricula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-269
Number of pages20
JournalCommunication and Critical/ Cultural Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Advertisements
  • Body
  • Gender
  • Television
  • Voice


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