Celebrating Women

In Blog, RCSLT 75 by Julie

The RCSLT theme of March is ‘Women’. Today is International Women’s Day.

Working in a profession which has a higher proportion of women than men, today feels like a good day to shout about it. (I don’t know why Speech and Language Therapy draws more females to the profession than males, and I have certainly met some incredible male SLTs too).

Though, as today is all about women, I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate some of the incredible women who have inspired me throughout my career and helped shape the SLT I am today.

I have been incredibly lucky throughout my life to have a supportive family (of men and women) who have helped me on my way to becoming a strong independent woman.  I will never be able to thank my parents and grandparents enough for the love and support throughout my life.

Today, I’d like to focus specifically on the women who have inspired me professionally from my student days. I studied at Newcastle University where we were (and students still are) taught by incredibly passionate, talented and dedicated lecturers. All of the lecturers fuelled my enthusiasm for the profession but I’d like to say a special thanks to Dr Helen Stringer and Dr Cristina McKean who really inspired me right from the very beginning. I continue to follow their professional work and have been fortunate to continue to cross paths with them at various CPD and university events over the years.

My university placements provided me with a solid foundation of practical skills to draw on the theory we were learning and I had some amazing placement educators (including those in house at university). I was especially inspired by one of my final placement educators (Sarah) who gave me a passion for working with children with speech sound difficulties. She is now the chair of the local ASLTIP group and it’s a pleasure to see her quite regularly again.

During my final year at university, RCSLT, came to visit us to tell us about the launch of ‘Giving Voice’ – a National Campaign to raise awareness of Speech and Language Therapy. Ele from RCSLT, ignited a real passion for grass roots campaigning which inspired me to raise awareness of the important role of SLTs. Throughout this initial phase of campaigning the team of students and local SLTs were inspirational and it was a pleasure to have a shared passion with such enthusiastic SLTs. Our local campaigning efforts led to national recognition of a Giving Voice award and it was a pleasure to be part of the team.

My Giving Voice campaigning didn’t stop there and I continued to access additional training and support from RCSLT. Attending some of the residential Giving Voice training with yet more incredible (mostly female!) SLTs who continue to inspire me today. I have met them at other events over the years and I follow their professional lives on social media and they continue to be inspirational (Special shout out and thanks to Gillian RuddRuth CramptonAndrea Robinson and Ria Bernard!)

Throughout my working life I have worked with dedicated and talented SLTs who have continued to shape the SLT I am today. I have also been fortunate to have had some incredible managers and clinical supervisors. My first manager Kath, supported my transition to NQP, and even though it was a research assistant role, she ensured that I was a valued member of the NHS SLT team where I was based. In a later role, I met some incredible therapists during my time in the NHS in Leeds and I am truly blessed to keep in touch with some of them now. My clinical supervisor Nicola, helped my confidence continue to grow and I developed a range of invaluable clinical skills from her wealth of knowledge and experience. I feel extremely lucky that she remains one my dear friends and continues to offer amazing support (even though we now live in different countries!)

I continue to have a number of friends who are SLTs and I keep in touch with them often. Sam B has been there since our student days and I’ve been lucky to meet Laura N and Maria M along the way.

As well as working with incredible SLTs, I have worked with some amazing teachers, SENCOs (especially Laura B!) and assistants both in my Leeds role and more recently when I worked for a group of schools in the North East. The enthusiasm, passion and dedication within their work to support the communication skills of children every day is wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside them.

Reflecting on my career and the amazing people I’ve worked with shows just a tiny amount of the breadth of knowledge, skills, experience (and all round loveliness!) within the profession. I have also been inspired and learned so much from incredible SLTs leading the way with research (and am enjoying learning even more at the moment as I study for my PG Certificate in Speech Difficulties).

As a profession we also have an amazing organisation with a dedicated (female!) CEO at the heart of RCSLT (Kamini Gadhok). I am so proud to be a Speech and Language Therapist and support the communication skills of children every single day. I look forward to continuing this very special journey surround my inspirational women (and men!) Thank you to everyone who has been and continues to be part of my journey.

Happy International Women’s Day 2020.