In Speculative Fiction, computers can speak. It certainly beats having the audience read a computer screen. Most of the time the voice is female (theories on why vary, see below) to emphasize the "otherness" of the A.I.'s nature, but there are many examples of male and gender neutral synthesized voices. Generally, they all carry a pleasant (if somewhat dull) monotone. If it should ever become (or started out with) a Creepy Monotone, watch out.
The gender will vary depending on the intentions of the computer. If it is designed to be utilitarian, military like, then it will be male. If it is supposed to be very user friendly for the tech-ignorant, then it will be female. The Star Trek franchise even shows this evolution: in the original series the female voice was always used when accessing encyclopedic information. The movies were more military-like, so it used a male voice. The Next Generation era computers were simply the most user friendly computer possible short of reading your thoughts.
This has been referred to as the most common sci-fi female character archetype. That is, since Most Writers Are Male, and the Sci Fi Ghetto is particularly associated with male fans, there are a disproportionate number of male characters but somehow the idea of the female computer has gotten lodged into the collective unconscious. Probably not coincidentally, these A.I.'s will have long, largely nonsensical descriptions whose acronyms 'just happen' to spell feminine names. For example, the Computer-Human Liaison Officer Executable, or CHLOE for short.
It's a bit deeper than a simple case of Most Writers Are Male. On a primitive level, a sudden unfamiliar female voice doesn't register as a physical threat, whereas a deep male voice does. That's why male voices in interface systems tend to be higher-pitched rather than in the James Earl Jones registers. They aren't as off-putting.
The tendency toward female voices may stem from Real Life: Companies initially hired teenage boys as telephone operators, but by 1900 the vast majority of them were female. Not only were the voices soothing, but the women tended not to be, well, hormonal balls of rage. It is also possible that the ability to pay women less than men was another added benefit.
Also worth mentioning: the naval tradition of giving ships feminine names, as well as giving abstract ideas a female Anthropomorphic Personification (Reason, Liberty, Justice, Rumor, the goddess of wisdom, etc.) is very, very old. Stands to reason it would extend to giving spaceships female names, and since the computer is the "brain" of the ship...
With regards to why certain messages are voiced by males and others by females, MTA spokesperson Gene Sansone said in 2006 that, "Most of the orders are given by a male voice, while informational messages come from females. Even though this happened by accident, it is a lucky thing because a lot of psychologists agree that people are more receptive to orders from men and information from women".
Engineering-wise, I thought it had something to do with the a higher pitch taking less bandwidth and resources. 
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