Methods: After receipt of Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 86 Black males in Social Work. The telephone interviews were conducted during the height of the pandemic in 2021. Each interview was recorded with the permission of each participant and transcribed verbatim. Two central questions guided the study: 1.What factors influence school or workplace satisfaction of Black males in Social Work? 2. What is the greatest need of Black Males in Social Work?
The data was coded using MAXQDA, a qualitative software tool. The study was comprised of seventeen graduate Social Work students with an average age 29, Sixty-one Social Work practitioners with an average age of 43, and eight faculty members with an average age of 42. Each participant identified as a Black male in Social Work.
Participants were recruited using criterion-based sampling. Emails were sent via social media and Social Work listservs in the United States. Participants must have identified as Black/African American, male, and enrolled in a Social Work program, work in Social Work practice, or work in Social Work Education. The study was informed by Dr. Fredrick Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory, which explores workplace satisfaction and has been highly regarded in qualitative studies.
Findings: The research findings yielded three major themes resulting from the participants lived experiences: 1) Inequalities in the recognition of the contributions of Black males in Social Work 2) The lack of a sense of belonging causes cognitive fatigue among Black males in Social Work, and 3) Spiritual coping is a key strategy in managing challenges faced by Black males in Social Work.
Conclusion and Implications: The findings indicated that Black males in Social Work often operate in isolation with minimal support. Thus, there is a need for greater intentionality to embrace Black males in Social Work. Such intentionality may reduce the inequalities and promote a sense of belonging, engagement, and inclusion. Further, developing programs, initiatives, and policies that are engaging and inclusive of the cultural experiences of Black males may improve the well-being, health, mental health, and school/workplace satisfaction of this often-forgotten population in Social Work.