The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Feminisms in Social Work Research

Thursday, January 16, 2014: 3:30 PM-5:15 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 008B River Level (San Antonio, TX)
Cluster: Gender
Symposium Organizer:
Stephanie Wahab, PhD, University of Otago
Ben Anderson-Nathe, PhD, Portland State University and Christina E. Gringeri, PhD, University of Utah
This symposium will present a collection of feminist research and thinking about feminist research in social work by leading and beginning social work scholars.

Despite a glaring absence from broader social science and humanities conversations and books associated with feminist research, we take the position that social work’s unique focus on praxis, daily proximities to privilege and oppression, and engagement with participatory forms of inquiry place us in a unique position to both learn from and contribute to broader social science and humanities discourse associated with feminist research.

Social work as a profession and academic discipline has long centered women and issues of concern to women (suffrage, reproductive rights, labor rights, equal rights, violence, poverty, etc.).  Central to both feminisms and social work has been the attention to diversity, inherent worth and dignity of the individual, power (personal and political) and the various ways power, in all its dimensions (interpersonal, intrapersonal, social, political, economic, spiritual etc.) informs individual and collective experiences.  Perhaps the most salient of these similarities, however, is the centrality of social change within social work and feminisms, particularly social change focused on challenging systems and institutions that perpetuate power inequities, privilege and oppression. While some have suggested that feminisms’ influence on social work research have been “almost breathtaking” (Shaw, 1999, p. 114), others have commented that social work lacks an appreciation for and engagement with the complexities of feminisms, calling for a deeper engagement with feminist theories (Orme, 2003; Sands & Nuccio, 1992) in research.  This symposium addresses both impressions by showcasing exemplary feminist social work research and scholarship about feminist research deeply engaged with theory, policy, and multiple feminisms.

The distinguishing feature of this symposium is that it showcases, for the first time, exemplary feminist research and scholarship about feminist research uniquely rooted in social work and focused on social change. Presenters attend to their specific claims of feminisms, articulate deep engagement with theory in research, address the problematic use of binaries in research, and attend to issues associated with methods that are consistently of interest to feminist researchers including issues associated with methods, power and authority, ethics, reflexivity, praxis and difference.


Key features of the symposium include:


·      Fills a gap in the social work research literature regarding social work contributions to feminist research

·      Addresses feminisms in qualitative and quantitative methods

·      Contributions from diverse authors across multiple social locations

·      Presenters from the United States and Canada

·      Each presentation centers social change as both process and product associated with feminist research



Orme, J. (2003). “It’s feminist because I say so!” Qualitative Social Work, 2(2), 131-153.


Sands, G. R. & Nuccio, K. (1992). Postmodern feminist theory and social work. Social Work, 37(6), p. 489-494.


Shaw, I. (1999). Seeing the trees for the wood: The politics of evaluation in practice. In B. Broad (Ed.). The politics of social work research evaluation (pp. 109-126). Birmingham: Venture Press.

* noted as presenting author
Feminism Plus? Critical Research, Women, and Madness
Andrea Daley, PhD, York University
Troubling the Binary
Sandy Leotti, MSW, Portland State University; Jennifer Muthanna, MSW, Portland State University
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