Title

'Electing the right people': A survey of elected social workers and candidates

Date of Completion

January 2008

Keywords

Social Work|Political Science, General

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This research examined the path by which social workers become elected officials, how social work education prepared them for practice in the political arena, and what professional support they received during their campaigns. The number of known social workers in political office identified by this research was 416, more than double the previously known number. Sixty-six percent (n=270) responded to a survey about their experiences as a political social worker. Their responses show that elected social workers do not report the same gender differences in their path to office, in areas such as recruitment, previous political activity, and family encouragement, as do other elected officials. The male and female social workers in this study have similar paths to elected office, knowledge of and interest in issues, and attitudes about the demands of holding and running for office. Respondents provided information about the coursework, field experiences, and content in their social work education that had prepared them for their elected positions. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents agreed that their social work education had prepared them to run for office. Based on these results, suggestions are made for ways social work education can prepare social workers for practice in the political arena, future research into the area of gender differences among social workers, and professional support for social work candidates. ^