Both women and men prefer female leaders who have lower-pitched and masculine voices to ones with higher voices, even in stereotypically female positions, according to a new study.
Given a choice between a hypothetical high-pitched or low-pitched candidate for a organisation president or school board member, people more frequently chose the lower-pitched voice.
"Our physiology determines our voice pitch. It's interesting that your physiology, a characteristic that may or may not be related to your leadership ability, is helping you to obtain a leadership position," said researcher Casey Klofstad from the University of Miami.
Klofstad said in general, people use voice pitch as a cue for personal traits, 'LiveScience' reported.
Women with high voices are seen as more sexually attractive, while men with low voices are perceived as strong, attractive and socially dominant, he said.
Taking that idea a step further, a woman with a deeper voice may be assumed to have more masculine traits, such as dominance and power.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have slightly deeper voices, and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher actually got voice coaching at the beginning of her career to avoid being perceived as "shrill and screechy", Klofstad said.
Earlier, Klofstad and his team found that both women and men prefer deep-voiced candidates for political office.
However, they wondered whether that preference would hold for positions seen as more stereotypically feminine: president of an organisation, and school board member.
"Positions of leadership where the leader is involved in the care and welfare of families and children, those are predominantly held by women," Klofstad said.
Researchers asked a group of 71 college students to vote for a preferred choice for school board from 10 pairs of female and 10 pairs of male candidates, based just on hearing their voices say, "I urge you to vote for me this November".
Roughly three-quarters of the time, both men and women preferred the female candidate with the deeper voice.