Role strain in female students in graduate social work education: Culturally competent institutional responses

Susan Bair Egan, Fordham University

Abstract

Graduate social work programs, as one form of social support to MSW students, must be culturally competent in responding to the needs of a diverse student body. This study illustrates the necessity of culturally competent organizational practice through a research study on multiple role female students and the racial and ethnic differences seen in their role demands, role strain, and use of supports from the university, the employer, and the informal network—family and friends. ^ Based on the premise that meeting varied role obligations is over demanding, it was hypothesized that role strain would increase with number of roles held, that socioeconomic variables would influence the use of supports, that the use of supports would reduce role strain, and that the patterns of the use of support would differ by race and ethnicity. ^ Difference in relation to perception of role demands, role strain, use of support, and the patterns of the use of support from the workplace and the university is seen among the three groups of African-American, Hispanic, and White students in this sample. While it was believed that use of supports would reduce role strain, in fact, it is seen that the more role demands and role strain experienced, the greater the use of support services from the employer and the university. It is the women of color who experience higher role demands and role strain and therefore use supports available from the employer and university to a greater degree than the White students. There are no significant differences in relation to use of supports from the informal network for these women. A resiliency model of organizational practice is used to discuss how a social work program can be responsive to the varied needs of students in light of the findings of this research. Through a lens of cultural competence, protective factors are identified that suggest how all constituencies of the school—administration, faculty, and students, alumni, and field placement agencies—can ensure an educational environment that promotes excellence. Ultimately, the clients who professional social workers serve will most benefit from culturally competent social work programs. ^

Subject Area

Social Work|Women's Studies

Recommended Citation

Susan Bair Egan, "Role strain in female students in graduate social work education: Culturally competent institutional responses" (January 1, 2004). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3126525.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3126525

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