Differences exist between boys’ and girls’ speaking styles, especially in pitch, communicative styles, and what they discuss. There is also a difference in how early they develop language and who is more prone to language-related developmental issues.
Before we delve into this topic, note that much of this information also involves stereotypes. Stereotypes can help us predict behaviour at times, but it certainly isn’t omnipotent because it often fails to capture our true diversity. In essence, consider that there are always exceptions and that it’s okay to be one.
Communication is important because it can help open up various opportunities when done right. At the workplace, it can be an asset to avoid conflict and work better in teams. So it makes sense why we are curious how gender can influence such an important thing. We will first cover the difference between boys’ and girls’ speaking. Then we will move on to the topic of speech development.
Do boys and girls speak differently?
While there are influences of sex (i.e., biological) on language development, as we cover in a later part of the article, the rest of the differences exist within a social context (i.e., are influenced by the environment and how individuals are socialised).
For example, in places where one gender is valued over the other, the communication styles will reflect this difference. The gender that gets more valued in a society may have a more aggressive speaking style, while the others may have a subservient or passive style. On the other hand, in places with no such distinction (i.e., egalitarian societies), such disparity in communication would be less.
What are these differences?
These include pitch, communication styles and discussion topics.
Men speak at a lower pitch than females, which results in a known masculine voice. In contrast, women speak at a higher pitch and sound more soothing. This difference is largely physiological and becomes more obvious as children mature.
It often sounds odd when someone acts out the voice of a different gender in an unironical way. Men who speak at a higher pitch may be interpreted as trying to please someone or being submissive. While there is nothing inherently wrong with having a different pitch, societal judgments affect us.
Related: did you know that stress relief can help you engage in public speaking more confidently? Check this article to know more.
Men have been colloquially seen to be concerned with hierarchy, while women are with connectivity. As a result, men may have more aggressive and assertive speaking styles (Source). There is a notable difference between these two as well. Aggressive style tends to lead to conflict because it undermines others while putting your needs at the top, e.g., shouting at someone might feel good at the moment, but the other person will not be pleased. The assertive style tends not to lead to conflict because it respects the needs of both people. It is the essence of healthy communication. For example, expressing what upset you in a respectful manner.
Since women are concerned with connectivity, they are sensitive to relationships and use less aggressive styles. Instead, they tend to be expressive and polite (Source). Each style has its benefits and works in different contexts. One might think aggression is always ineffective. Most of the time, this might be the case. However, here’s an exception.
What they discuss
Women tend to be more expressive of emotions (Source), which is also evident in their choice of discussion. While there is little evidence that there exists a difference in feeling emotions for both sexes (Source), their expressivity is a different matter altogether. Men are more likely to instead talk about sports and other non-personal topics.
Related: if you’re interested in discovering strengths and weaknesses in communication, check out this article.
How does speech development differ between boys and girls?
Girls tend to speak earlier than boys, with quicker communication and language skill development (Source). They tend to acquire words more quickly and build a larger vocabulary.
On the other hand, boys are more frequently affected by practically all developmental abnormalities that primarily influence speech, language, and communication skills. Apart from this biological tendency, there might also be social reasons that boys develop language later on. They’re more likely to engage in physical play, while girls are more likely to engage in conversation because of the gendered associations made by society (Source).
We considered how boys and girls differ in their speaking. We also considered differences in their developmental tendencies. While little can be done about biological differences, our actions can influence socially constructed ones. Public speaking is one such skill. Feel free to check out public speaking coaching.