I took a Research in the Social Work Profession class in last year’s Spring semester. As part of that class we did several projects, and I noticed in doing mine that there was a lack of GLBT-related material in the major social work journals, and that nonbinary identities might as well not exist as far as the literature was concerned. I found a study that was done in 2002, and repeated by a different group in 2014, that looked at lesbian and gay content in 4 significant social work journals, but there wasn’t anything similar for nonbinary content. So I wrote a proposal and got accepted for a URECA (Undergraduate Research Experience and Creative Activity) grant that gave me $2000 to do a nifty study that ended up as "More missing: Expanding content analysis in social work journals to include non-binary orientations and gender identities".
The original Van Voorhis and Wagner study looked at 4 significant social work journals for the years 1998 through 1997. Pelts, Rolbiencki, and Albright looked at the same journals for the years 1998 through 2012. My study looked at the same journals as well: Social Work, Child Welfare, Social Service Review, and Families in Society. I looked at all articles published in the years 1998 through 2013, and the inclusion criteria was “contains material addressing any sexual orientation other than straight, gay, or lesbian and/or any gender identity other than cis male or cis female”.
What that meant in real life was pulling articles listings and abstracts for each year for every journal to find out which articles were most likely to fit the criteria and should be looked at more closely. That got me from the 2,496 articles published in total in the time frame to 94 articles that needed review. Each of the 94 articles full text was pulled, and after reading them all I found 27 that actually met my criteria. Each of those 27 were gone through to compile an overview of population focus, topics covered, purpose written, and to look at whether the language they used was current and inclusive.
The first thing that stood out was that only 27 articles out of 2,496 included content addressing any nonbinary identity. That’s 1.08% over 15 years over all 4 journals. And the majority of those articles appeared in a single 2006 special issue of Child Welfare. If you exclude that one special issue, the average is less than one article per year, with a high of 3 in 2002, and 7 years with no articles published at all.
The focus of the articles broke down to 10 articles looking at orientation only, 3 articles looking at gender only, 8 articles including material on both gender and orientation, and 6 articles where gender and orientation were conflated or confused with each other. 44% of the articles used outdated and/or dehumanizing language (including in one case referring to a trans individual as “it”), and 70% of articles showed overt heterosexist or cissexist bias (as defined by the APA). Zero articles were elderly centered, and 19 were youth centered (14 of those from the Child Welfare 2006 special issue).
The single largest topic covered was youth in out-of-home care. (Not surprising considering that the majority of articles were published in Child Welfare.) Two articles covered GLB stepfamilies and foster parents, and 2 covered different phases of the Lesbian Health Care Project (which included bisexual women). Four articles centered on worker training and practice evaluation. Only 3 articles covered specifically trans issues, and all three were problematic in terminology and in theory.
A simpler / more clear version of my major results is here - that’s the presentation poster I used for this year’s Scholar’s Week. (There's was supposed to be a link there. It's not working. The URL (which works when put in the browser directly - at least on these 3 computers, no promises though) is: http://foocatz.com/ScholarsWeek2016.p
That’s probably enough babble for one post, so I’m going to stop there for now. If this is too babble-y or doesn't make any sense, let me know.
(Also, I have no clue why my cut tags are messing up. The first one should be "How it was done" and the second one should be "What I found".)
This entry was originally posted at http://sanacrow.dreamwidth.org/15230.ht