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Gender imbalance in the field of social work


Nurana Jafarova, MBD Degree Holder, MSW`19 Candidate at Washington University in St. Louis, Research Study Coordinator at Washington University School of Medicine


NURANA, SINCE WHEN HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING AND WORKING ABROAD?

I moved to the United States in July 2017 to get a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at Washington University in St. Louis. However, since 2011 I have lived in the United States periodically while participating in different academic and leadership programs.


PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIELD OF PRACTICE

Currently, I am completing my MSW degree with a health concentration. As a part of my program, I am currently finishing an internship at the American Lung Association as a Health Promotion specialist and Certified Freedom from Smoking Facilitator. I am also working as a part-time Research Study Coordinator in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine on a nutrition-related study.

My future career focus is in the area of maternal and reproductive health.

I wish to use my skills and education to increase the access of women to quality maternal and reproductive health services, and to advocate for policy changes for the provision of these services.

To achieve this, I will be starting my practicum as a Perinatal Social Worker at the Perinatal Behavioral Health Services (PBHS) at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Department of Psychiatry in May, 2019. I am also working on my international Perinatal Mental Health Certification provided by Postpartum Support International.


WHY DO YOU LIKE WORKING IN A SOCIAL FIELD?

Social work is all about helping others, fighting for social justice, being a voice of disenfranchised, and improving the quality of lives and communities through education, research, advocacy and intervention. This is the work that I love to do and have wanted to do for my entire life.


DO YOU THINK THAT GENDER BALANCE IS WELL RESPECTED IN YOUR FIELD IN GENERAL?

Actually, social work is a female-dominated field with women accounting for the vast majority of social workers in the United States. Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 83 percent of employed social workers were female. Even though the majority of social workers are women, but the majority of leadership position in social services and healthcare are held by men. Therefore, definitely there is gender imbalance in the field of social work.


YOU PROBABLY MEET AND GET QUESTIONS FROM YOUNG WOMEN WHO WANT TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR FIELD TOO. WHAT DO YOU TELL THEM TO ENCOURAGE?

Considering my own experiences and challenges as a woman coming from a patriarchal society, my only message to all fellow women is: “Never let anyone, any idea, any value be an obstacle to your success, destroy your dreams, or discourage you.

Fight, stand for yourself, stand for your life!

Yes, it is not easy, it is overwhelming, but it is worth it!”

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