Make Room For The Stuttering

Minority Within A Minority (Old News)

Posted on: March 5, 2012

A SLP friend emailed me the following article that was printed last month in the ASHA Leader, the newsletter of the American Speech and Hearing Association. The article is entitled “Perspective: A Minority Within A Minority” and written by a professor and a doctoral student from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

I was excited to read the article, at first.

The article discusses the lack of research about women who stutter, and cites the only research done in the field was in the 1970’s and 1980’s, by just ONE researcher. Of course, a lot has changed in 30 years in the world that exists for women who stutter.

What has not changed is that we women who stutter continue to feel very underrepresented, isolated and misunderstood, both in the world in general and in the speech therapy world.

This article points to the woeful lack of resources and support for women who stutter, because, YES, there are gender differences. Ask any woman who stutters!

And there are even research studies starting to surface about brain differences between men and women who stutter. I participated in this brain study at the NIH in 2006. I blogged about this last January (here!)

The main reason I was not excited with this article was that the authors failed to specifically mention, and credit, what is out there in the grass-roots world of support for women who stutter.

The authors mention that electronic blogs and podcasts have become an acceptable source of support for women who stutter. I have been hosting the ONLY podcast for women who stutter since May 2010. It would have been nice if the authors cited this as a reference, instead of just allude to it.

As we know, training programs for SLPs often only require graduate students to take one course on fluency, and sometimes even that is not required. Generations of future SLPs have no idea that women who stutter feel unheard and hugely isolated. What about little girls who stutter? Where will they get the support and inspiration they need? And hope?

I believe we will continue to see a widening gap between the speech therapy field and organic, grassroots venues where women who stutter are given a voice.

More research is needed. I hope when the next professional article is written about women who stutter that the author (s) will talk to some of the women who stutter who are already telling our stories that need to be heard.

What do you think? I’d love to know!

8 Responses to "Minority Within A Minority (Old News)"

If further research was done, they would have found the ISAD 2002 Online conference paper, Women Living in Stuttering ….which mentioned the first Women Living with Stuttering workshop at the NSA conference in 2002, the WLS YahooGroups, and further research would have revealed Girl Power workshops at Friends National Conferences in 2003 and 2004.

Oh, I spoke too soon. The Women Living with Stuttering 2002 paper is mentioned. … I hope we are consulted more on the work that’s already been done.

On stuttering and women and the lack of research. Too bad they didn’t frickin’ mention the Pamela Mertz’ blog and podcast. Great job getting practical information out to the people ASHA. Keep professional organizations segregated from the people you should be helping.

They cited an article that I wrote, so all I can say is they did a wonderful job! No, seriously, academics are still struggling with the internet and social media… I think things are going to get better, but you, Nina, and Nora are right… actually giving the links to the information that IS out there (AKA: Pam Mertz) would have been good. Keep fighting the good fight. Joe

Thanks Joe (and Nora)
I am certainly not advocating that I should have been mentioned, because that is selfish, but it looks like they allude to my podcast, so why not link it so others can see it is indeed a body of work that is out there and freely available.
And you’re right Joe – you are mentioned, so all is right with the world. I was happy to see Nora’s piece cited too, but it is disheartening to see that nothing in last several years is mentioned, and the women who stutter podcast has been around now for almost 2 years.
In the context of this article, it makes it seem there has been nothing current, which is not true.
So glad you weighed in, Joe.
What’s it going to take to get academia to see organic, grassroots stuff is a VIABLE resource?

Dear Pam,

As you know, being part of a group representing 1% of the general population is not always easy. I can hardly imagine being in a group representing 0.2% of the population! I’m 47, and I could count on a single hand the number of female stutterers I have met before I discovered the internet stuttering community in the past year. Indeed, little girls who stutter must feel quite lonely. Hopefully if they Google something like “stutter” and (“female” or “girl” or “woman”), they will hit your web site and podcast. It would obviously be a plus if the professional community would inform the field and their clients on the many resources and support groups available. Thanks to you Pam, and to Nora, to Nina G, to the StutterTalk “B” team girls, and all th other ones out there for being role models for young girls who stutter.


Hi Pam. I LOVE your website and I make sure to listen to all your blogs and read all your articles. They’re great! I was in speech therapy in a small town in Ireland as a young child and I really didn’t find it helped me. I think that the SLT’s here are trying to learn from the past and focus on new ways to help children and adults who stutter. It is frustrating though when so many valuable and wonderful resources are available out there now that we (stutterers!) are not made aware of – I found your website just by luck! I was frustrated by the lack of information and support out there for women who stutter so I decided to turn to Google. As I mentioned, I was in formal speech therapy as a child which didn’t really help me. It was only as an adult in Dublin when I found organisations like the Irish Stammering Association and DAS (Dublin Adult Stuttering) that I began to learn to be ‘real’ and to tackle any issues I had with stuttering head on and with honesty. I feel that if I had had access to online resources like yours when I was growing up I wouldn’t have felt to utterly alone in the world.

Thanks for the podcasts 🙂


Pam, a therapist i had in the past once told me that her professor said to her – you may work your entire life and never have a patient who stutter, so do not put too much effort in it. Before me she had only one adult PWS – a male. So if you decide to work with SLP, make sure, make really sure they know the problem and had experience. Anna

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