Abstract: 'breaking the Glass Ceiling': Minority Social Workers As Policy Actors (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

'breaking the Glass Ceiling': Minority Social Workers As Policy Actors

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Valley of the Sun B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Hani Nouman, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Social work, Israel
Background and purpose: Limited realization of social justice and unequal access to basic social resources place demands on social workers to take action to shape effective public and social policy. Previous studies have identified various challenges that limit the involvement of social workers in policy practice. These challenges have only partially been examined in the context of social workers belonging to ethnic minority groups in multicultural societies. This empirical study, which centers on social workers from the Palestinian Arab minority group in Israel, focuses on examining challenges on the political, cultural, and personal levels.

Methods: Research data was obtained using a qualitative data collection method, through personal in-depth interviews with 45 social workers from the Arab Palestinian minority in Israel. The inclusion criterion for the sample was social worker graduates of academic institutions in Israel employed by local government public welfare agencies in Arab localities. Potential interviewees were identified from the list of social workers published by the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services. Ten social services departments were selected. All social workers in the sample were contacted by the author between June and September 2019.

Results: Research findings revealed challenges on the political, cultural, and personal level. These challenges are closely related to the sociopolitical context of an ethnic minority faced with inequality, discrimination, and oppression, as well as the social and cultural gaps between the majority and minority groups in a multicultural society. Based on these findings, we (Nouman & Azaiza, 2021) developed a Minority Policy Practice (MPP) model to examine the different factors that may affect the involvement of minority social workers in policy practice.

Conclusion and implications: The MPP model contributes to expanding a theoretical understanding of the relationship between power and race in professional contexts in social work in cross-cultural situations. This model point to the importance of understanding race and discrimination in a complex and changing historical context and emphasize the commitment of social workers to promoting social justice, while proposing a transformative response to racial, gender, or status-related oppression. The MPP model extends the understanding that the dominance of power and oppression of people based on color may also occur towards professionals belonging to minority groups. This may affect their perception of operating in institutional arenas, individually and as a group, in an attempt to change reality through political involvement in political arenas where power relations are shaped by the elite majority. These new theoretical understandings are expected to serve as a basis for advancing training and designing policy procedures to increase the involvement of minority social workers as policy actors in multicultural societies.