"I don't know if it's because we're women...": Exploring the Relationship of Gender and the Signed Language Interpreting Profession
Valentin, Katariina (2019)
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This thesis examines the signed language interpreting profession and its relationship to gender in a Finnish context. Research on gender and signed language interpreting is scarce, and therefore the aim of this study is to go some way in filling the gap, with a specific focus on the signed language interpreter’s role and prestige. In addition, this thesis provides suggestions and evidence based support for future research. The theoretical framework draws from gender studies and feminist research as well as studies from the field of translation and interpreting. Previous research on gender segregation, work and the translation and interpreting field indicate that signed language interpreting, as a female predominant profession, faces issues regarding gender bias, sexism and harassment as well as low prestige. The data for this thesis was collected through two focus groups and analyzed using the template analysis method. The findings imply that the signed language interpreting profession is profoundly impacted by the gender structure and that Finnish female Sign Language interpreters experience role constraint when facing inappropriate advances. The research also reveals issues with the prestige of Finnish female signed language interpreters when viewed by lay people and especially from the institutional level. This thesis also utilizes the theory of gender as social construct and offers a view on how signed language interpreting can be examined through it. The research has been conducted within a Finnish context and through qualitative methods focusing solely on the perspective of female interpreters, and as such cannot be generalised without further and broader research.