Gender affects speech recognition accuracy rates

July 1, 2007

A small study found a significantly higher rate of transcription errors in women compared with men using a commercial voice recognition application. Causes of the discrepancy may include the differences in the volume and frequency of speech between sexes or more fundamental differences in how the application was tested at time of development.

A small study found a significantly higher rate of transcription errors in women compared with men using a commercial voice recognition application. Causes of the discrepancy may include the differences in the volume and frequency of speech between sexes or more fundamental differences in how the application was tested at time of development.

Dr. Syed Mahmood Ali, a radiology resident at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and colleagues trained five male and five female radiology residents on a speech recognition system. They asked each resident to dictate a standardized set of 10 radiology reports containing a total of 2123 words. The generated reports were compared with the original reports, and error rates were calculated. Researchers defined the error rate as the sum of the number of word insertions and deletions divided by the total word count for a given report.

Error rates in the male population ranged from 0.025 to 0.139, with a mean of 0.082. Error rates in the female population ranged from 0.015 to 0.206, with a mean of 0.100.

"These error rates may have significant negative impact on reporting accuracy and output, disproportionately affecting female radiologists," Ali reported at the American Roentgen Ray Society meeting.