What Does It Mean to Be Part of the Gendered Space/s of Social Work?

Work thumb

Views: 220

Abstract

For a long time, social work education has often identified the primary make-up of practitioners as being “white, female, and middle-class.” Both social work educators and students wrestle with these potentially-complex ideas and classifications of identity, because often individuals know they are not white, or even believe they are middle-class. When Indigeneity is included as a marker of identity for many individuals, questions about gender equality make the situation more complex. Although the majority of the profession is female, it also has a smaller proportion of male workers who gain significantly from their male privilege. Female social workers and social work educators realise increasingly that their male counterparts reach positions of power, influence, and authority at inequitable rates; that male privilege is still played out in what we argue is a female-gendered profession. These themes around privilege and power in social work practice are important for achieving gender equality in the profession. This article provides an initial exploration of two questions that will interest social work academics and burgeoning social workers; first, to what extent is the “gone-ness of female social workers” related to ethical dilemmas of trying to maintain an equality framework when they are surrounded by only a few men, several of whom move quickly from grassroots service delivery into dominant institutional leadership positions? Second, how can an Indigenous perspective provide a different worldview lens on being part of a gendered social work profession?