Quilting professional stories: A gendered experience of choosing social work as a career
thesisposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Joanna Mensinga
The literature and research investigating why people choose social work as a career has tended to focus on motivational traits rather than on the choice experience itself. Whereas the vocational sector has moved to include a focus on the narrative processes involved with selecting a career, much of the social work research fails to capture the meaning-making processes individuals engage in to make sense of their career choices within their personal and social contexts. This research project describes the meaning-making processes two students participating in the social work program at Central Queensland University and I employ to understand our career choice experiences. Over a period of four years, using a research approach that combines Clandinin and Connellys (2000) narrative inquiry with Riessmans (2003) emphasis on social positioning within narratives, Geraldine, John and I explore the interplay between individual, community and professional agendas in our past, present and imagined career choice experiences particularly focusing on the impact of gender. Identifying the importance of caring as a hallmark of the profession and what draws us to social work, this co-constructed research text highlights the agendas that predominantly support womens entrance into the profession and challenge mens participation. Drawing on the metaphor of a quilt to describe our career choice experience, this project draws attention to the importance for aspiring social workers to carefully choose, cut and join together bits of gendered narrative material to create a professional story that both legitimises their entrance into the profession and to position them within the larger career sector.