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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.

Research Objectives

1. Pinpoint the reasons for the motivations of men to become a Sign Language interpreter and compare these with other predominantly female professions.

2. Highlight the experiences of men in Sign Language interpreting and compare these with other predominantly female professions.

3. Establish what implications the findings have for our understanding of gender in the workplace, men and masculinities as well as environment and person fit.

Scope & Method

The study will focus on the SLI's within the UK who are registered with the three main regulatory bodies:





Data collected will be qualitative through semi-structured one-to-one interviews and a closed group on Facebook. Secondary data will be collected from research previously published, conference and seminar papers, statistical resources, magazines, newspapers and journals.

Research Groups

I am under the supervision of Ms Helen Charnley and Dr Alison Jobe from the Department of Sociology at Durham University. I am actively involved in research centres such as The Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, The Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexuality and the Centre for Intercultural Mediation as well as groups such as Organisational Dynamics and Ecological Studies within the Department of Economics and Finance as well as Culture and Difference and Translation/Linguistics/Pedagogy within the School of Modern Languages and Cultures.

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