Methods: Using guided content analyses, we explored a random sample of SSW websites. All CSWE-accredited, graduate-level MSW programs (n = 311) were eligible for inclusion; 47 Schools (15%) were randomly selected.
Guided by our data extraction form based on Mor Barak and Travis’ (2010) two-stage process of diversity and inclusion, we explored links on SSW websites to collect diversity and inclusion data. Additionally, we collected demographic information (e.g., program types, public vs. private designation).
Data were independently coded through open, first-level, and second-level coding, leading to thematic analysis. Discrepancies were resolved by consensus. We also conducted descriptive analyses to further understand the extent of diversity/inclusion efforts.
Results: Of the current sample (n=21), 71.4% offered masters degrees only, and 61.9% were in public institutions. The following themes emerged: inclusion-focused characteristics well-represented at the student-and-faculty-level, limited inclusion-focused characteristics represented at the school-level, and diversity/inclusion information available but difficult to access.
The top diversity/inclusion-focused characteristics at the student-level were not requiring the GRE for admission (90.5%) and a standardized exam to graduate (85.7%). Less information existed regarding diverse student organizations (e.g., Black Social Work Student Caucus; 19.0%), and no (0.0%) websites included student body demographics.
At the faculty-level, the top represented diversity/inclusion-focused characteristics were having a female dean/director (85.7%) and having faculty of color (81.0%). The lowest represented characteristics were having a person of color as the dean/director (23.8%) and preferred gender pronouns in faculty profiles (4.8%).
At the school-level, many websites included mission statements with diversity-related content (71.4%) and images of diverse persons (66.7%). Fewer included activities/policies/programs for diversity/inclusion (38.1%), evidence of global outreach (23.8%), and content regarding diversity-focused institutes/centers/offices (14.3%).
Conclusions and Implications: Websites are likely the first place that potential consumers, including students, faculty, staff, and community providers, look when wanting to learn about a SSW. SSW websites should include more information to help potential consumers from diverse backgrounds determine whether they would feel included at the School. Such information should be not only available but also easily accessible. Diversity efforts may attract members of diverse populations to a school, but inclusion initiatives increase chances they feel satisfied and remain connected. These positive outcomes can allow students to flourish directly and indirectly, through learning from one another.