Prof frets that female students don't feel oppressed enough
- A University of Connecticut professor believes that social work courses need a stronger emphasis on feminism and "intersectionality" because too few female students consider "discrimination and subordination" to be "salient issues."
- Cristina Mogro-Wilson frets that a "post-feminist standpoint" is taking hold among younger women, deeming it “essential that students learn to nuance their understandings around oppression."
A University of Connecticut professor is calling for a “more expansive inclusion of feminism” by colleges to help female students recognize the oppression they face.
Cristina Mogro-Wilson, who teaches social work at UConn, surveyed 118 students pursuing a Masters in Social Work (MSW) degree and found that the overwhelming majority of respondents—94 percent of whom were women—do not believe that “discrimination and subordination” are “salient issues in women’s lives.”
While the respondents were less likely to believe that discrimination was a major issue in their lives than were MSW students surveyed for a 2013 national sample, many of them still agreed with other feminist topics of concern, such as the need for “liberal gender roles” and “equality, equal opportunities, and respect.”
The findings are problematic, Mogro-Wilson contends, because without a sense of their own oppression, students may be disinclined to “embrace the notion of change through unification,” such as in the form of protesting.
Worrying about the potential of a “post-feminist standpoint among younger women…who no longer see discrimination against women as being a salient issue,” Mogro-Wilson calls for incorporating more intersectionality into the social work curriculum.
“Intersectionality provides a useful framework to examine gender-based oppression,” she says, adding that discrimination “cannot be fully understood without also considering other coexisting social identities, like race, culture, sexuality, and class.”
She also deems it “essential that students learn to nuance their understandings around oppression, so that when considering foundational social work issues, like poverty, mental health status, and oppression, that to the extent possible all areas of social identity are explored in combination.”
Without a strong understanding of how women are discriminated against, Mogro-Wilson worries that her social work students might be doing their future clients a disservice, noting that research has shown that “social workers tend to perpetuate traditional gender roles.”
To that end, she contends that social work programs must make a concerted effort to help female students realize not only how they face oppression personally, but how other women face oppression as well.
“This study indicates that there may be reason for a more expansive inclusion of feminism in social work education,” she concludes, adding that doing so could promote “the role of collective action in gaining gender equality.”
Campus Reform reached out to Mogro-Wilson for comment, but did not receive a response.
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