University Libraries.

Topics in Social Work: Women in Social Work

International Women's Day is March 8th! Celebrated since the early 1900's, International Women's Day "is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women." For this year's theme, the organizers are focused on bringing awareness to a marked slowing in progress on the issue of gender parity, an issue which effects women of all walks of life - but often in particular those working in traditionally female jobs.

Social Work is a great example of a predominantly female field effected by the lack of progress on the issue of gender parity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an overwhelming majority of social workers are female, with nearly 84% of social workers being women according to 2016 figures. Nonetheless, leadership positions in social work are disproportionately held by men and a marked gender-based pay gap exists between male and female social workers (scroll to the bottom of this Statista chart to see recent data on the extent of that pay gap).

Interested in learning more about the gender parity gap in social work - and possible solutions? One great option would be to attend this local National Association of Social Workers event: Where Have All the Women Gone? Encouraging and Helping Women to Become Leaders in the Social Work Profession on March 8th. Additionally, a wide variety of articles, informative blog posts, books, and journals are available through the library and/or on the web. Check out the resources below - or do some searching on your own using the library's eDiscover service or in databases like Academic Search Complete or Social Services Abstracts!


While there are a wide variety of journals available on social work topics - many of which include articles on the pay gap in social work, and issues surrounding male and female leadership in the field - one particularly great option for browsing for articles is Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work. This journal focuses specifically on the intersection of feminism and social work. To access full text of the journal, with coverage spanning from the late 90's to present, simply search for the journal name under the "E-Journals" tab from the library homepage.


  • Anyikwa, V. A., Chiarelli-Helminiak, C. M., Hodge, D. M., & Wells-Wilbon, R. (2015). Women Empowering Women.Journal of Social Work Education, (4), 723.
  • Goldkind, L., & Pardasani, M. (2013). Social Workers as Senior Executives: Does Academic Training Dictate Leadership Style? Advances in Social Work, 14(2), 573-593.
  • Jabour, A. (2012). Relationship and Leadership: Sophonisba Breckinridge and Women in Social Work. Affilia, 27(1), 22–37.
  • Lane, S. R., & Flowers, T. D. (2015). Salary Inequity in Social Work A Review of the Knowledge and Call to Action. Affilia, 30(3), 363–379.
  • Lazzari, M. M., Colarossi, L., & Collins, K. S. (2009). Feminists in Social Work Where Have All the Leaders Gone? Affilia, 24(4), 348–359.

Books Available at Dewey

  • Lieberman, A. A. (Ed.). (2010). Women in social work who have changed the world. Chicago, Ill: Lyceum Books.
  • Pierson, J., Sheffer-Hartmann, C., Feit, R. F., & National, A. of S. W. (1982). Moving women up: a manual for breaking down barriers. Silver Spring, Md: National Association of Social Workers.
  • Vakalahi, H. F. O., & Peebles-Wilkins, W. C. (Eds.). (2010). Women of color on the rise: leadership and administration in social work education and the academy. New York: Columbia University Press.

Need Additional Assistance?

Help is available! Contact Elaine Lasda Bergman, at (518) 442-3695 or Appointments available - or drop in during weekly Social Welfare office hours from 5-8pm on Tuesdays.

Blog Created By: Rebekah Jarvis-Girtler
Image Credit: Rebekah Jarvis-Girtler

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