Gender Dynamics and The Political Recruitment of Social Workers

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



This purpose of this study is to explore the gender dynamics in recruitment of social workers to run for public office. It was hypothesized that since most social workers—and social workers elected to public office—are women, that most social workers recruited to run for office would be women as well. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that recruitment would increase political ambition among men and women in social work, with a greater impact on women. Regarding research methods, the study utilized a sample (N = 2,316) consisting of randomly selected licensed social workers in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Data came from the National Study of the Political Participation of Licensed Social Workers (NSPPLSW). Chi-square tests were conducted, and logistic regressions were created using predictor variables measured with Likert scales. Cox–Snell pseudo-R2 was calculated as a goodness-of-fit measure. Results indicated that, despite being vastly outnumbered, men in social work are significantly more likely to experience political recruitment than women. This was true across all practice areas except community organizing. Additionally, contrary to hypotheses, recruitment was found to bolster political ambition equally in men and women in social work. Concluding remarks recommend increasing the effort among gatekeepers in political social work to recruit more women to run for office.


Published online: 15 September 2022.

Cailee Tallon is a graduate student in the Social Work program at Sacred Heart University.