A research project on attracting more men to the schools of social work in Denmark:
I am just about to deliver a research report together with the research organization that had the primary responsibility for the report. I was primarily in a "backing group” of experts who have followed the report since the beginning. The research has been going on now for about one year and has involved the six different schools where social workers are trained in Denmark. The aim of the report is to come with suggestions and possibilities to attract and keep mere men in the schools of social work in Denmark. Today there are just about 18 % men and it is the men who have the highest rate of drop out. Therefore the Minister for Gender Equality has given a rather large amount of funds to conduct the research. Now we are finished and are holding a conference on Monday, May 13th in the city of Odense in Denmark. The research project has been interesting, challenging and very interesting especially because I have been interested in the topic of men and social work with men for the last 10 years here in Copenhagen. There are several interesting facts regarding this work as well as the research project that I have to speculate about here. One, regarding my teaching and my research work in social work with men, is that there is no more interest and curiosity than there is. The teachers at the college where I have worked for the past 22 years have not been interested in my course and now not been interested in developing their own teaching of social work from a gender neutral approach to a more gender specific approach. The other aspect has a direct result of the research project is that there are not many schools or school administrators who are interested in the report, in the research or in attending the conference regarding the presentation of the research report. It has been incredibly difficulty to get an interest and a discussion going regarding the research report as many officials at the schools of social work do not see that it is necessary to use their time and energy to attract more men into the field of social work. Why? That is very difficult to understand and they do not say much about their lack of interest, just that they do not feel it is necessary or important to prioritize this kind of issue and they do not have the time or the interest to attend the conference on the report. They are just not interested and do not see it as relevant. That is not to say that we are very few who are interested in the research and in the topic, but we are just a small amount in regards to the numbers of people who are involved in social work training in Denmark. The conference is aimed leaders and recruitment officials as well as study advisors and counselors who help students in regards to their education and studies at the schools of social work. But why no interest in this topic? It is very strange for me, who has been working on the topic for the last 10 years and have been teaching a seminar on "social work for men” through all these years. It is clear for me that social work and the professional communication with social work clients is a gender specific job. All the different kinds of social problems as well as the path to developing a social problem are definitely gender specific as men and women react completely different in the face of a crisis and in the face of a problem in their lives and in their family. Therefore it is completely necessary for the social worker to communicate with a man with developing social problems completely different that he can communicate with a woman. This is just one of the problems which is not taken up in the research report. The research report only I about attracting men to the field of social work and supporting then regarding completion of their education in social work. But it is clear in the report as well as in the conversations with the respondents who the interviews have spoken to that men in a primarily women culture will have a very big effect on the dynamic of the education. I can clearly see in my seminar on social work with men in the discussions among the students that they would very much like to have more men into the education. Some of the things that they say is that the education and the culture in the school of social work is dominated by a special women discussion culture which has a great to do with feelings, emotions and a culture of reflection and discussion. They have a very difficult time in ending the discussion and making an organized project and report from the discussion that they have conducted. When in a primarily female culture, there are developed a range of practices which have to do with women’s way of speaking, way of talking with other women and a type of discussion where they use themselves as an example and involve themselves with feeling and emotions regarding the project topic they are working on. There is absolutely no problem with this kind of involvement, but it is necessary to go a little bit further. And going a little bit further could be by attracting more men into the schools of social work so the culture could change for the better to develop and support the students by creating a dynamic environment where there can be different kinds of perspectives and approaches to working with and solving social problems.