Gender-Bending the SLP Field

by Tom Kloiber on December 14, 2012

Gender-Bending the SLP Field

Traditionally, the some professions have been dominated by women, so much so that jobs like nursing and other medical professionals, office assistants, teachers, flight attendants, and many other service professionals have been designated “pink collar” workers, a term coined during the WWII, when women entered the workforce en masse for the first time in history. But things are changing rapidly for a number of reasons.

The Great Recession, which has deep roots going back decades, starting with the outsourcing of manufacturing, or “blue collar” jobs traditionally held by men. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are gone, and they are unlikely to come back…leaving the men who would fill those jobs with fewer alternatives.

Some people are quick to blame the unions for loss of manufacturing jobs, but the fact is that Americans will never accept the combination of extreme low wages, lack of safety and environmental protections, and general employee abuse allowed in other countries, so it will always be cheaper to operate overseas. We want living wages, safe conditions, and clean water. Some people call that greed. Some call it making a living…the American way.

Shifting Perspective

Since the loss of manufacturing jobs disproportionately affects men, they are setting their sights on the frontiers traditionally dominated by women. In fact, in this decade, almost 30% of men seeking jobs will turn to careers traditionally held by women, and the trend stretches across all income and education levels.

Behind the Shift

Several factors are influencing the changing roles. Eighty million baby boomers retiring drives medical profession need in two ways: Retiring professionals leaving a gap in the number of workers and a huge aging population in need of medical help. The coming need is well-publicized, but it is not the only factor in play. The rising cost of education diverts some from pursuing a higher education. For people whose surnames do not grace the sides of buildings on college campuses, becoming an RN or NP is a far more affordable option than becoming a surgeon. This logical alternative will most likely result in gender integration among SLPs as well.

Changing Roles

In addition to the changing face of the workforce, there are changing responsibilities and job descriptions within the profession. With medical and school budgets stretched to their limits, SLPs must get creative and offer the best possible care with less money. Many professionals are jumping on the technology bandwagon, adopting telespeech practices to supplement or supplant expensive and time-consuming face-to-face interaction, a solution that allows a greater caseload in less time.

Men Are Not Taking Women’s Jobs

With so many men entering the SLP field, you’d think that your job opportunities will shrink, but that is not the case. The need is much greater than the growing workforce. There will continue to be plenty of jobs. You’ll just see more guys in the interview rooms.


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