The Father Factor

Where Are All Your Male Social Workers?

Posted by Erik Vecere

Most Recent Fatherhood Posts

Oct 15, 2019

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So, you’ve been working hard at your organization to engage dads. You might’ve even added father-specific programs and resources. But, as you look around at your staff, where are all the men?

You’re not alone. In fact, the 2018 Labor Force Statistics shows that 82 percent of social service workers are women, and it doesn’t look good for future trends either. According to the Council on Social Work Education, just 13 percent of the recipients of master’s degrees in social work in 2015 identified as male. This lack of male social workers could make it even harder for you to hire men in the future.

The good news is that there are ways to buck these trends and balance your male-to-female staff ratio. Just like social service workers have to learn to more intentionally engage dads in their programs, the same holds true for attracting men as employees.

Here are some pointers to increase the number of male staff.

  • Partner with local social work departments in schools. This partnership should include the following approaches:
    • Recruit current students for internships and graduating students for employment. This approach is a win-win since you’re looking to increase the number of male staff and the schools are looking to provide their students employment.
    • Educate deans on why it’s important to use different tactics to recruit men versus women for their departments. Just as there are campaigns for police departments to hire more women, schools can deploy similar marketing strategies uniquely designed for men.
  • Create a male-friendly job title and position. The best way to ensure your job listing attracts men is to have at least one man review it and give feedback before you post it. A director of a home visiting program told me that she tried to hire a male parent education specialist, but didn’t get a single male applicant. After she shared her dilemma with a man on her policy council, she took his advice and changed the title to “Fatherhood Advocate.” She immediately received several male applicants and ended up hiring one.
  • Address the culture of your organization. When a man shows up for an interview, what does he see as he walks through your doors? How does the receptionist greet him? What kind of images and color schemes are in the waiting area? And it doesn’t end once you’ve hired him. One supervisor asked her first male employee to journal anything that made him feel uncomfortable during the work day. After he presented the list to her, she asked him to present it to the entire staff at their next meeting. Although it was uncomfortable for a few weeks, her female staff realized they were doing things that disturbed him and adjusted their behavior. They understood how their verbal and non-verbal communication affected their work with him and the dads they wanted to engage.

As you hire men and improve the male-friendliness of your organization, future applicants will see that you’re committed to an environment where both men and women feel welcome. As a result, you will be on your way to a more gender-balanced staff.

What is your male-to-female staff ratio?

Have you been intentionally marketing job positions in ways that will motivate men to apply?

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Topics: Featured, General Fatherhood Program Resources, Tips & Tricks

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