Diversity in Audiology programs

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Feb 14, 2013
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I hope no one thinks I'm being rude, but this is something that has been on my mind for quite a while, I have visited many schools/ Audiology and Speech Pathology programs across the country and one of the first things that I notice when visiting these school and meeting students is that not many of the Au.D programs are diverse. While many of the Speech Pathology programs tend to be very diverse and many of the students are from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. However in the Audiology programs minorities are extremely under-represented . I often wonder why there is such a large contrast regarding diversity between Speech Pathology programs and Audiology programs? And how can this issue be improved upon in Audiology programs and the profession overall?

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Those are excellent questions, and let's not forget the lack of gender diversity in both audiology and SLP.
For my first two years of undergrad, I went to an engineering school with a 4:1 ratio of guys to girls. When I first transferred into a speech pathology program, I was immediately aware of the lack of gender diversity. My school was fairly homogenous as a whole, so our program was predominantly white and female. I was the only one in my graduating class of 30 who decided to go to grad school for audiology.

This is just a theory, but most of the people in my program were very schools-oriented. Most of them originally went to college intending to be elementary school teachers, and found they enjoyed speech pathology more. The speech pathology grad students who wanted to work in hospitals tended to be the non-white, and/or non-female students. At least at my school, speech pathology was considered a very soft science. I think if the research and medical opportunities were more well-publicized, or if the pre-reqs for each program continue to incorporate more "hard" sciences, we might see a little more diversity. Obviously, I can only speak from my experience. I am sure that there are undergrad programs that emphasize the diverse opportunities in the speech and hearing profession. My professors were always aware of these opportunities, but since the students themselves were more interested in school-based careers, that tended to be the emphasis of my program.
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its not really a big deal, theres a ton of racial/gender diversity in a ton of other fields, if people wanted to pursue aud/slp, they will, no way to force it, no real need to try to force it either.
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How do I explain this without sounding ignorant as like I am putting minorities down. I am African American and currently in the 2nd year of my AUD program. To be quite honest many minorities and even non minorities don't know what an audiologist or SLP is so why would they major in it. I went through undergrad being one of the only African American in my program and even now I am the only black person in my doctorate programs. When African Americans and other minorities think of careers and even whites they think of teachers, social workers, businesses, nursing and you have the few who want to become lawyers and doctors. Communication sciences is a not diverse field because the people pursuing it aren't. SLP is a little different because they have them in all the schools and many students receive speech therapy in schools so the profession is known compared to audiology which is so small and relatively unknown to many. For many of us we look up to our parent's and become what they become career wise, for me my parent's were healthcare providers and could give me insight in to the different healthcare fields but when you don't have that you stick to what you know. Look at who can afford to buy hearing aids, not the lower class or middle class families who have to support children pay rent etc therefore they never visit audiologist and therefore they do not know what they are or can even encourage their kids to pursue that degree. Also for many blacks they feel inadequate, only thinking they can achieve this much, to many a doctorate seems out of reach and they can't fathom the idea of performing so high. ASHA realizes this and they have their minority leadership program. To me you won't pursue something you know nothing about and that is what is comes down to in the minority community especially African Americans. But just like other professional do it is up to us to recruit and mentor fellow students and not during college when it is too late but in highschool and if you want to see more minorities target them
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In my experience (I am an African American female communicative disorders major, preparing to go to school for Audiology) we do not have as much diversity as other professions because of a few complex reasons. I have experience with just one of the many reasons. I come from a pretty well off family (not trying to brag or anything, I am blessed and I know this) I cannot readily name a family member who does not hold at least a bachelors degree. When I told family members what I was majoring in/planning to make of my life-I got laughed at :)mad:) and promptly told to just become an MD even after I explained everything I find interesting about audiology I was still told to become an ENT or a PT/OT. Audiology (and speech path) are not held in high esteem unfortunately especially in families where career achievements are priorities (I mean MD is easier to brag about amirite?). Family disapproval are hard things to overcome. This is just an anecdotal reason and probably not the norm...but its there. AuD and SLP are small majors and professions that many minorities (or anyone really) just don't have close contact with so they don't really understand it.

Also, thinking about it CSD programs (because of the lack of minorities) can be pretty intimidating for us POC and that also creates a loss of POC students. I know in my program I am 1 of 6 black females and their are 10 minorities tota (give or take)l in our program of about 100. I was the only minority in my classes Freshman and Sophomore yr. It was...interesting and while I was okay with it, I would imagine some students might feel awkward and leave the program.

(Also Howard University a historically black college, has a speech program with lots of minorities :thumbup:)
Are any of the minority students in this thread/forum seeking an externship position in Florida?
Are any of the minority students in this thread/forum seeking an externship position in Florida?
Hi! Just came across this post! As a Black audiology student in 2018 unfortunately I have not seen much improvement in diversity across programs. I am one of two Black students in my program and we have one Black faculty member.

I am a third year and looking for externships in Florida though!