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Gendered Discourses in Speech and Language Therapy

Litosseliti, L. and Leadbeater, C. (2013). Gendered Discourses in Speech and Language Therapy. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, 8(3), pp. 295-314. doi: 10.1558/japl.v8i3.295

Abstract

The Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) profession in the UK presents a striking example of ‘occupational sex segregation’: men make up only 2.5% of SLTs. This paper discusses parts of a research project which explored the gendered discourses that construct speech and language therapy as a gendered profession or as ‘women’s work’. Data were collected via questionnaires, interviews and focus groups with SLT graduates, Speech and Language Therapists, SLT teachers and careers advisors in London, UK. Data were analysed qualitatively using grounded theory principles, iterative thematic analysis and discourse analysis. The findings show that the gender imbalance (in terms of numbers) in this profession is shored up by a range of gendered discourses and their associated social practices: discourses of SLT as a gendered profession; gender differences discourses; discourses of women as ‘carers/ nurturers’ and as ‘superior communicators’; and discourses of gender and career progression. These discourses were sometimes taken as given and reinforced by research participants, while at other times they were contested. The research presented here constitutes a much-needed starting point in the investigation of an under-researched area, and aims to extend our understanding of the topic from a critical discursive perspective.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: gendered discourses; speech and language therapy; focus groups; career choice
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Language & Communication Science
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/7230
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