Rationale for Study
Sign Language interpreting (SLI) in many countries is a predominantly female profession. In 1980 and 1988, surveys of attendees at US interpreting conferences recorded female attendees at 76 and 78.6 percent respectively. The Association of Sign Language Interpreters in England and Wales Fees and Salaries Report showed 82 and 84 percent of respondents in 2008 and 2011 respectively, were female. An international survey of interpreters I conducted in 2009 found 72 percent of respondents were female.
Evidence to suggest why is rare but it is proposed that female interpreters are biologically predisposed to the complex task of interpreting and that it is a helping profession which are traditionally carried out by women. (Humphrey and Alcorn, 1994)
There are many studies into men in predominantly female professions (e.g. Lemkau 1984, Williams 1992, Bagilhole & Cross 2006 and Simpson 2009) but none for the SLI profession, so this research aims to fill the gap in knowledge and assist in the profiling of potential newcomers into the profession.