Speech Science co-founders Lucas Steuber and Ivan Campos had the opportunity to interview Mike Skiados, CAE, Director, Membership., for the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and a powerful advocate for the growth of the field. In this inaugural episode of our podcast, he was kind enough to speak at length about his role, the organization's plans for promoting diversity, and overall strategic initiatives for the coming year.
The following is a question and answer format transcript of the interview. If you prefer to listen instead, here is the link for the audio version of the interview: http://bit.ly/2oWTifs
What impact have you observed from outreach initiatives such as the “Male Recruitment Center” at the ASHA 2016 Convention in Philadelphia and other outreach programs for minorities in the field of speech language pathology?
We do feel we have made some traction. For the big picture, when trying to recruit underrepresented populations such as men, this type of change takes a while to have an impact on the profession and for us to be able to take credit for it. When we have undertaken recruitment with individuals from underrepresented groups, more bilingual services providers, we knew that we had to:
Build interest among communities
Provide information and resources for them
Build a pipeline of people coming into the profession and ASHA and sustain those individuals in the pipeline
For this type of recruitment we need 2-5 years to bring awareness of the discipline and benefits and followed by another 2-5 years of building the pipeline of males in training to come into these professions (SLP + AuD), and about 5-10 years concurrently to see any changes in the amount of men that we see joining the profession for ASHA to start taking credit for it Overall, we have recently seen an upward trend in men in their first few years of ASHA membership.
Why is this a priority for ASHA?
Having a more diverse membership and profession will lead to a more engaged and more empowered profession, more willing to innovate, speak up and take risks and make their needs known, develop innovative solutions, and move the profession forward.This leads to improved outcomes in providing services and reducing educational disparities.
The ASHA organization wants to be able to better serve a more diverse membership for the following reasons:
More diverse members can serve a more diverse population
Increase in more loyal members
These members will look to ASHA first for products services resources to support a more diverse population
Why men at this time? - We can’t have a true diverse and inclusive membership with the existing gender imbalance.
What successes can you celebrate?
Bilingual service providers has continually been increasing. We are now at 11,759 members or 7 percent of the membership. Members can self-identify online as a bilingual service provider on the ASHA ProFind website. An Ad Hoc committee is exploring language proficiency and feasibility of bilingual service provision. In the next year or two, some guidelines for minimal qualifications for bilingual service provision will be released so that the public can feel confident that the provider is able to speak both languages, but can deliver services in those languages at a level that is beneficial.
How are students choosing to become SLPs?
Our own research reveals that individuals chose to become SLPs for the following reasons:
Interest in subject matter
Competitive salary and benefits
Personal experience - i.e., My father had a stroke, my mother couldn’t hear very well, or stories about a relative
For men, the reasons why they chose to become SLPs are a bit different:
Seem to follow other friends into the profession
Friend or family who worked in the field
Challenge of the profession and nature of the work (i.e., diversity of settings children, adults, schools, health care settings, etc.,)
Disparity and gender in terms of SLPs?
SLPs 3.7 percent male
Audiology 17 percent male
Have not noticed disparity in schools vs. healthcare
Strategies to diversity membership?
Current focus is on high schools with a STEM focus with populations of 75% and higher ethnically and culturally diverse populations. Our plans include target/tailor communications to this group:
Males choose SLP due to friend or family who worked in the field
Establish a grassroots network of mentors
Reaching out and connecting with guidance counselors, sending them materials: brochures, material kits, links to websites, exhibit materials for career fairs, recruit local SLPs to attend career fairs
What can you share about The League of Extraordinary Speech Pathology Gentlemen? Question answered by Lucas and Ivan
Close to 700 members who identify as male from all over the world which includes undergrads and graduate students and practicing professionals
It has evolved into a clinical support group
Occasional discussion on gender differences as professionals
Distribution of “Membership” cards at ASHA and other state conventions
Possible ribbon at ASHA convention
Thriving community that wish to support each other as professionals
- Reaching out via Skype/in person to our Alma Maters to give presentations about our profession
- For more information visit: http://theleagueofgents.com
There seems to be noticeable negative affect about ASHA for a variety of reasons on social media. How does ASHA respond to this?
We hear from our members on everything that is going great and everything that is not. It is very valuable feedback to improve as an organization. We listen through social media, email, phone calls, etc. Some issues we can resolve right away, others we can not as they’re asking for services/resources that are not currently in place. We listen to that information, concerns/complains are some of the most valuable calls we receive. Our goal is to constantly be improving so that we can better support our members so that they can better support their clients.
Are there other ways to assess clinician knowledge beyond the Praxis?
ASHA recognizes changes in US demographics. One of the Strategic Pathways is to increase members’ cultural competence - it is a new objective ASHA is exploring, should have something more concrete in the next couple of years to address these changes.
Plans for male outreach at ASHA 2017?
There are plans for a mentor connection for men, “mentoring or mantoring”, where established professionals mentor those new to ASHA or students and show them the ropes.
Mentor connections for the convention:
- Prior to convention mentor would connect with the mentee
Agree to meet up at the convention and introduce the mentee to other colleagues
Follow up afterwards
Development of a microsite to facilitate recruitment of men
What are some ways SpeechScience.org, “The League”, and ASHA can collaborate?
There are lots of ways we can collaborate together:
Links to each other’s websites
- Microsite for male recruitment