Approximately 82% of social workers are now female and fewer men are entering the profession than ever before. The reasons behind the lack of men in the field have not been thoroughly investigated, however it seems that social stigma plays a significant role, as do economic factors.
Women comprise 81.6% of social workers, 69.9% of counselors and 82.4% of social and human service assistants. Men account for less than 10% of social workers under the age of 34 suggesting that their numbers will decrease even more in the next couple decades.
This wasn’t always the case. In the early 1980’s, men constituted 36% of the social work force and in the 1970’s, men matriculated 50% of all master’s degrees in psychology-they now earn only 20%
Low pay in social work could explain some of this,the mean salary of licensed professionals is only $51,192 after managed care was introduced in the 1990’s, therapists salaries decreased dramatically exponentially the number of men in the profession began to drop.
According to the National Association of Social Workers, only 10% of current male social workers considered entering the profession before college the same study also revealed that men are most likely to be influenced to become a social worker by another social worker.
Another explanation for the professional disparity is the misconception that women are just better at social work because they are more in tune with their feelings.According to studies cited in the New York Times, women are not any better or worse than men.
The implications for this disparity are not good for us as a society and particularly not for men. With the vast majority of therapists being women, many therapists debate this may alienate men seeking mental health treatment, especially if they are seeking help for sex or aggression related issues.
Men are eliminating employment potential in these fields, while social work jobs are increasing faster than most and have proven to be recession-proof.