Child Welfare Workers' Sexism And Beliefs About Father Involvement

Jun 2018 | Katrina Brewsaugh, Katherine E. Masy, and Alison Sallouma

Research over the last few decades has consistently found that fathers are not routinely included in the provision of child welfare services. The current study examined whether ambivalent sexism on the part of child welfare workers was related to their beliefs about involving fathers. Ambivalent sexism theory posits that gender stereotypes include subjectively positive beliefs in addition to hostile beliefs that both serve to perpetuate patriarchal systems. Participants (N = 490) were currently front-line child welfare workers in the United States who completed an online survey assessing ambivalent sexism and beliefs about father involvement in child welfare cases. Ambivalent sexism was assessed using the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory and the Ambivalence Toward Men Inventory. The Dakota Father Friendly Assessment was modified to assess beliefs about father involvement in child welfare. Latent class analysis was used to empirically derive four sexism profiles. Results indicated that participants with profiles suggesting less sexist beliefs had more positive attitudes about father involvement and had a lower preference for working solely with mothers. Sexism profile was not related to participants' stated father involvement behaviors such as conducting home visits when fathers are present, including fathers in case planning discussions, and recruiting fathers or paternal relatives as placement options. Implications for social work and child welfare practice include developing training that increases knowledge of fathers' importance and increases workers' comfort in providing services to men.

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