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Feminist attitudes and ideologies: an examination of a Northeastern US MSW program

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The relationship that Masters in Social Work (MSW) students in the United States have with feminism appears to be paradoxical, in which MSW students tend to endorse feminist principles but are hesitant to identify themselves as feminists. In an effort to better understand MSW student support of feminist principles, as well as social work students’ relationship with feminism and possible implications for social work education, a survey of MSW students was conducted at a Northeastern US MSW program utilizing an established scale, the Liberal Feminist Attitude and Ideology Scale, which is comprised of five subscales. Scores on the subscales were compared and findings indicate that MSW students were more likely to highly endorse the Gender Roles, Global Goals, and Specific Political Agendas subscales compared to Discrimination and Subordination and Collective Action subscales; suggesting that students promote gender role parity and feminist goals, but were less likely to acknowledge discrimination and the need for collective action. This article will discuss the importance of social work education as an instrument for exploring the ways in which women face gender-based discrimination and highlighting the necessity for students to take a more active role in participating in collective action to reduce gender-based oppression.
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Keywords: Feminism; LFAIS; collective action; discrimination; feminist attitudes; feminist goals; gender roles; liberal feminism; social work students

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Social Work, University of Connecticut, Hartford, CT, USA

Publication date: February 17, 2018

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