The Gender Imbalance within Speech and Language Therapy
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Male Speech and Language Therapists account for 2.9% of the profession in the UK (HPC, 2011). There is mounting pressure to create a more diverse workforce by increasing the number of males. However, research into the reasons males choose to enter the profession is both limited and dated. Aims: The aims of the current study were to explore what influenced the current undergraduate male students at one university in the UK to become Speech and Language Therapists; to ascertain how they found out about the profession; and what effect, if any, the gender imbalance had on them up to this point in their training. Methods and Procedures: Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) of semi-structured interviews with six male undergraduate Speech and Language Therapists. Outcomes and Results: Factors that influenced the decision to become a SLT included the desire to work in healthcare, the desire to help people, the range of practice and having an interest in a particular aspect of the profession. Most participants found out about SLT by researching degree courses online or in prospectuses or by chance. Most participants reported being a minority had advantages in university but the lack of male Placement Educators (PE) was highlighted as a negative aspect of the gender imbalance. Participants indicated support from other males in the profession would be beneficial. Conclusions and Implications: Universities need to ensure they are promoting the profession effectively online and providing male students with the opportunity to be with male PEs. Consideration needs to be given to creating a male support network covering all UK universities.
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