This was something new for me, and when I heard the piece on NPR’s This American Life podcast http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/545/if-you-dont-have-anything-nice-to-say-say-it-in-all-caps?act=2 it talks about “vocal fry” and the criticism of its use is leveled mostly at younger women, and their demographics seem to indicate that the use of it bothers “older people” most (to the point of distraction and anger!). I’m in the “older people” category and I just couldn’t hear it—I like the NPR women reporters who have apparently been accused of speaking this way, so I figured I had to find out more. Faith Salie gives more examples https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEqVgtLQ7qM that finally clarified what I should look for in the phenomenon. My next question was, do I do this? I am not beyond imitating speech patterns of those I listen to (I had a roommate from Boston in college, and I picked up on her affectations; as a language major, it was always my job to listen and imitate), but TV shows they mention as a source of this type of speaking (Kardashians, the Bachelor, etc.) are not ones I’m exposed to.
As part of the interview process, people give seminars, talk to potential co-workers, and interact with the search committee. Can ways of speaking (think previous Valley Girl-speak equating to vapidness; styles peppering “um” with every other word with being less than self-confident) also be used to bias people in the workplace?
To be fair, apparently this phenomenon of vocal fry is not exclusively female (plenty of men do it too, but it is perhaps more expected to hear it in a male voice), but the men are not criticized for it in the same way.
At the 2015 ESA meeting in Minneapolis with the TriSocieties, there will be a symposium focusing on implicit bias on Tuesday afternoon. Do you know of anyone qualified to speak on this topic? Do you know more or have opinions about how this or any other types of speech affect credibility and/or ability to be hired in the sciences or elsewhere?