October 9, 2012 People

Readers Respond: October 9, 2012

Closing the Gender Chasm?

There are very few professions, indeed, in which women have not joined the ranks of males to close the gender gap of the professions. Yet, for unexplained reasons, speech-language pathology is one of the remarkably few professions with a thoroughly un-modern and astonishingly high preponderance of females.

The present inventory of 743 undergraduate majors and 212 graduate students makes our program in communication sciences and disorders at University of Central Florida not only the largest in the United States but, to the best of my knowledge, globally. Yet among these large student numbers, there were only 3% males in the spring 2012 semester enrollment.

I have wondered why it is that the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association does not undertake specific advertising to close the gender divide, and I even approached them with this goal in mind of getting the word out there that speech-language pathology is a "man's job," too.

Besides mere advertising, I think ASHA should dedicate scholarships to address this problem. ASHA scholarships targeted specifically to increase the numbers of male professionals in our field could, first of all, be directed to male graduate students with speech disorders. I have observed the particularly remarkable talents of male former fluency clients—among the absolutely most talented students I ever had the pleasure of teaching.

I cannot help but be optimistic about our profession's future and feel that our profession could greatly benefit from greater gender balance and the increasing diversity that could result.

Jack Ryalls
Orlando, Florida


  

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