Working in a female environment: perspectives from male Speech and Language Therapists
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) is a predominately ‘white female’ profession. There is a significant occupational sex segregation, a term used to refer to professions that are continuously male- or female-dominated. Men account for just 2.5% of all SLTs in the United Kingdom (UK), this imbalance is also evident in other countries. Despite the concern of the gender imbalance within SLT, by professional bodies in the UK, research into the reasons for such occupational sex segregation remains limited. Aims: This study aims to explore the experiences of qualified male SLTs working in a female-dominated environment. This will allow a comprehensive picture of how males enter into the profession, the significance of men’s minority status and the implications of occupational choice for gender identity. It is important to undertake research into the male SLT perspective, to formulate recommendations and endeavour towards a more gender stable workforce. Methods & Procedures: The study adopted a qualitative design which elicited participants’ views and experiences in relation to the research aims. In order to carry out in-depth analysis of the data, an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach was adopted, using semi-structured interviews as a method of gaining data. The sample consisted of three qualified male SLTs, currently working in the UK. Outcomes & Results: The findings extend our understanding in the area of gender and SLT. Analysis of the interviews revealed themes that were evident in all or some of the participants’ accounts. Results expose the experiences of men in SLT; how they enter into the profession and the appeal of SLT to men. Results also indicate positive outcomes for men who enter into a career in SLT and the benefits male SLTs bring to the workforce. Furthermore, possible reasons for the gender imbalance are explored, such a low awareness of the SLT profession among the general public. Conclusions & Implications: This study demonstrates that descriptive stereotypes surrounding men and women, aid the understanding of the ways in which the SLT profession is characterised as a profession for females. The findings increase our understanding of the experiences of males in female-dominated professions, primarily SLT. There is further need to research the experiences of males in SLT, to endeavour towards achieving a more diverse, gender stable workforce, thus better addressing the needs of society.
B.Sc. (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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