Samsung recently faced criticism for their descriptions of male and female voices for Bixby, its new mobile phone assistant. The female voice was described as “chipper and cheerful,” while the male as “assertive and confident.”
Many took to Twitter to air their concerns over the sexist hashtags. On Wednesday, the company heeded the customer feedback and swiftly removed the descriptors.
Samsung told Gizmodo it was “working diligently to remove the hashtag descriptions from the Bixby service,” and it is “constantly learning from customer feedback.”
Humanizing mobile assistants has shown to help consumers become more comfortable with the robots. Unfortunately, this is not the first time assistants have been associated with female voices. Siri, and Alexa, for example, are both AI robots that utilize a female voice, placing women in a subservient role. At least Bixby is a gender-neutral name, which is a significant step forward (though not an excuse to add such gender-biased descriptors).
Though some may think that a few words may not be harmful, the diminutive language towards females that perpetuates society has an impact on day-to-day behavior. Studies have shown that gendered associations such as these have harmful effects on women in the workplace, resulting in a decrease in confidence.
Though it is comforting to see Samsung being both receptive and action-oriented, it is clear that tech companies have work to do with regards to their gender stereotypes.