Tag Archives: translators’ profession


translator_5It seems that there are a lot more women translators – over 70 per cent or so, although this depends on the sector in question.

Joint research by CIOL/ITI in 2011 found that 68% of respondents were women.

In Germany, statistics gathered by Bundesagentur für Arbeit in March 2011 show that over 70 per cent of oral and written translators are women.

According to Service Canada (2012), “women had 70% of work of this field in 2006; this percentage increased compared to 1991 (61%) and “this percentage is going to grow during the next several years, because 75%-85% of graduates of translation schools are women.

According to Norwegian statistics of 2010, the percentage proportion of oral and written female translators is 71,6%.

According to Association International d’Interprètes de Conférence (AIIC), 75 per cent of its members are women.

A study during which 1,140 oral translators in North America were surveyed tells us that 76 per cent of them are women.

A study conducted by SFT in 2010, in which 1,058 written translators have taken part, had 77 per cent of female subjects.

A study of professional translation conducted in Northern Portugal found that 77,3 per cent of written translators were women.

84 per cent of respondents to a study by Yılmaz Gümüş of 125 translators who graduated in Turkey in 2012 were women.

A study of 422 certified written-oral Spanish translators in Spain by Vigier Moreno found that 86,26 per cent of them were women.

A Danish study showed that 87 per cent of authorized translators that worked from home were women.

Research into printed journalism for women in Germany and Austria found that 91 per cent of translations were completed by women.

It can be suggested that the percentage of women is lower in the technical and technological segments of translation markets, but there was no way to find any reliable data in relation to these issues.

We can accept the rough estimate regarding the fact that the percentage of women translators is 70 per cent or more. There is also a suggestion that these figures are going to increase. Does the fact that most people in the profession are women have a positive or a negative effect on professionalization?

Some experts claim that the prevalence of women is clearly the “opposite” of professionalization and add the following comments:

“A translatess is considered a housewife if she’s working as a freelancer or a secretary/serves coffee, but has a higher status if she’s working for a company”. Nevertheless, such views aren’t considered universal or permanent, and can actually be considered almost anecdotal.

One of the most common explanation of the female prevalence within this sector could be the extent to which part-time work and freelancing can function alongside raising children. Since written document translation can be performed at home with a more or less flexible schedule, this type of work is considered very interesting by women at a certain stage of their lives. We’ve noticed that the consequences for professionalization are the changing factors such as part-time work and freelancing, and the issue here is very much not the prevalence of women in the industry.

However, a minimum of three studies below prove the following contradictory facts:

Detailed analysis of SFT data shows that women translate slower than men if we’re talking about freelancing market, most likely because women use fewer technological solutions. On the other hand, if we’re talking about translators that receive wages, not much difference has been observed between sexes.

Woolf’s research of the role of translators in German publishing houses: “as a result of our experienced research we can say that female translators don’t play domination games with men in the publishing field. They’re ready to learn interventional translation strategies and are happy to leave publishers that aren’t happy with this level of activity. Therefore, there is none of ontological servility occurring as a result of a woman occupying the position.

Dumm and Zetzen’s study, during which translators were compared with “key staff members” of surveyed companies – “employees that do the job that determines the company’s type of activity, i.e. lawyers in a law firm, economists in a bank”, women compiled only 14 per cent of staff members.

A fact that can be considered interesting is that key female employees viewed the job as relatively prestigious: “we found that key male employees viewed translations generally as a low-status profession, whereas their female colleagues are inclined to see a translator’s status as high”. Therefore, translator profession can receive a status of being accepted and highly appreciated by women, and not because it’s a very feminized profession – to the contrary, it’s because of that, the profession is very feminized.