“There must be more men out there”: Female Speech and Language Therapists’ perceptions and experiences of males working within the profession
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Background: Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) is generally considered a female-dominated profession, with male Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) making up just 3% of all SLTs in the UK. Despite this vast imbalance of gender within the profession, there is little research looking at why the imbalance exists, with the majority of this research focusing on the assumptions that male SLTs believe are being made about them. Aims: This study aims to explore the perceptions and experiences of female SLTs in relation to males working within the profession, to establish the extent to which female SLTs make assumptions about male SLTs. This will aid in the understanding of why the gender imbalance still exists in this profession. Methods and Procedure: A qualitative design was used, where the participants’ perceptions and experiences of males as SLTs was gained through the use of semi-structured interviews. The interviews were conducted on 3 female SLTs working in the UK, and were analysed using thematic analysis in order to obtain a deeper understanding of the responses given in the interviews. Outcomes and Results: The study furthered the understanding of the types of assumptions that female SLTs are making about male SLTs. The results showed that assumptions are being made about the qualities and skills that are needed to become an SLT, and how these qualities can be used to progress through the profession. They also showed the positive and negative impacts that the gender imbalance can have on those working as an SLT, both professionally and socially. Finally it showed that assumptions are not only being made by female SLTs but also by members of society. Conclusions and Implications: This study discusses how the assumptions made by those working in the profession and by members of society, have influenced the career paths and professional choices made by males working within the profession. The study helps to further the understanding of why a gender imbalance remains in SLT. There is further need for research into the assumptions made by society, to strive towards a better understanding of why there are so few male SLTs in the UK.
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