Inequalities Between Man and Women in Social Work

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Marianne MODAK , Social Work, Haute école travail social & la santé, Lausanne, Switzerland
Inequalities between women and men stem from the assignment of the “care” work to women; yet in Switzerland, in certain fields of social work male professionals are quite numerous, but these disparities are not reduced. They take a different form. My demonstration is based on a study by semi-structured interviews as well as direct observation carried out in various public social work services. The type and intensity with which social workers mobilize their emotional and relational skills within the framework of their professional practices denote two different ways of conceiving the place of  "care".  "Care" is a stake in the context of the "active social state", because social work is now evaluated in terms of its efficiency and productivity. Whilst this management orientation may be viewed positively as a way of heightening the visibility and value afforded to the profession, it may also place an undue emphasis on measurable professional acts versus professional attitudes and relational work– the latter being seen as non-measurable. Professionals are thus faced with the impossible challenge of balancing two alternatives, one being characterized by measurement and focused on efficiency, the other typified by the immeasurability and immoderation constitutive of the nature of relational work. Our study shows that when confronted with this dilemma professionals who display typical feminine career patterns take it upon themselves to carry out "bad" care work that takes time and is largely invisible while professionals who exhibit typically male career patterns dispense the "good" care, which can be organized rationally, is measurable, and is thus considered more productive.