In This Article Women and Macro Social Work Practice

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Anthologies
  • Reference Works
  • Women-Founded and -Run Organizations
  • Women, Management, and Leadership
  • Women and Fund-Raising
  • Women’s Content in Macro Social Work Education

Social Work Women and Macro Social Work Practice
F. Ellen Netting, M. Lori Thomas
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0101


This entry primarily identifies historical and contemporary resources on women’s roles and activities in social work practice within U.S. organizations and communities (macro practice), including a sampling of readings on international women’s efforts. While the majority of references are focused on social work research and practice, relevant references from colleagues in women’s studies, feminist history, and various other disciplinary perspectives are included. For the purpose of this entry, women in social work macro practice are engaged in decision making and participatory processes that occur in programmatic, organizational, community, and policy arenas. Early historical references focus on women’s roles and gender division prior to the development of social work as a profession in (1) the development and oversight of benevolent (charitable) work, (2) the reform of social problems, and (3) the rights movement prior to and during the Progressive Era in the United States. Contemporary references elucidate what is known about women’s roles in founding and running organizations, community organizing efforts, and policy analysis and implementation.


The textbooks in this section make a special effort to integrate content on women and are not intended to be inclusive. Barusch 2009 is a policy text, Appleby, et al. 2007 is for a human behavior audience, and Finn and Jacobson 2008 offers a practice textbook that integrates macro and micro content. These three books are good resources for foundation learning. Day 2009, a history text, is a helpful supplement in beginning courses on social welfare. Lengermann and Niebrugge 2007 is an insightful treatment of contributions made by women theorists and is an eye-opening view of how women’s theoretical contributions have been subjugated.

  • Appleby, George A., Edgar Colon, and Julia Hamilton. 2007. Diversity, oppression, and social functioning. 2d ed. Boston: Pearson, Allyn, and Bacon.

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    Chapter 6, written by Barbara Worden, is “Women and Sexist Oppression.” Following an introduction to the person-in-environment (PIE) classification system for problems in social functioning and the empowerment framework, macro analysis based on feminist epistemologies, gender roles, and the feminization of poverty are explored.

  • Barusch, Amanda Smith. 2009. Foundations of social policy: Social justice in human perspective. 3d ed. Belmont, CA: Brooks Cole.

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    Chapter 12 in the section “Vulnerable Populations: Discrimination and Oppression Is on Women” incorporates content on gender-relevant policy.

  • Day, Phyllis J. 2009. A new history of social welfare. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson, Allyn, and Bacon.

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    A special effort is taken to include women’s history, women’s movements, and women’s issues throughout this history textbook.

  • Finn, Janet L., and Maxine Jacobson. 2008. Just practice: A social justice approach to social work. Peosta, IA: Eddie Bowers.

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    A feminist approach is used in this introductory practice textbook, integrating micro and macro practice within the principle of social justice.

  • Lengermann, Patricia Madoo, and Gillian Niebrugge. 2007. The women founders: Sociology and social theory, 1830–1930. Long Grove, IL: Waveland.

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    Lengermann and Niebrugge describe how women sociologists and social theorists were written out of sociology textbooks until feminists began to reconstruct women’s social science contributions in the 1980s.

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