Date of Award

6-5-2015

Exit Requirement

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies

Department

Special Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Elisa Maroney

Committee Member

Dr. Molly Mayhead

Committee Member

Emily Ott

Abstract

In this study, trends in gender-related traits among practitioners of American Sign Language – English interpreting are investigated. The impact of gender identity on practitioners’ perceptions of their role and professional experiences is also explored. Limited research exists to address issues of gender within the American Sign Language – English interpreting field but is largely focused on differences in discourse among male and female practitioners. Data for this study was collected through quantitative and qualitative means: an online survey incorporating the Bem Sex-Role Inventory and interviews with five practitioners of American Sign Language – English interpreting. A review of related literature supported the notion that while societal views of gender have shifted over time, certain qualities and characteristics remain valued for men and women. Research on female-dominated professions shows men experience gender identity privilege in the workplace. While this study shows that male and female practitioners may value or possess similar traits and characteristics, female practitioners experience gender identity oppression in a manner that male practitioners do not, especially related to their bodies and expressions of femininity. The experiences of female practitioners creates an additional layer of consideration that must be addressed prior to focusing on the myriad considerations inherent in the work of American Sign Language – English interpreters. Educators are advised to take current classroom practices into consideration for supporting all students, regardless of gender identity, and practitioners are encouraged to seek diverse communities of practice. These communities may provide the forum during which practitioners can engage in discussions of identity oppression and potential mitigating strategies.