Social workers have long fought to bring diversity, inclusiveness, and economic justice to the communities in which they serve, but for decades the internal practices of the profession have contradicted its public persona, perpetuating myths and misconceptions about women of color and their ability to teach and lead. In these essays African American, Asian American, Latina, Pacific Islander, and Native American women share their experiences working within the field of social work, describing their rise to leadership and their efforts to maintain authority. Emphasizing themes of social change and justice, these narratives make visible the unique challenges faced by leaders and administrators of color, an issue that continues to affect women within the field today. Trading on decades of experience, Halaevalu F. O. Vakalahi and Wilma Peebles-Wilkins choose essays that specifically examine concerns and techniques facilitating the development of women of color as leaders. Their lessons inform future research, policy, and practice and are sure to enhance scholarship on diversity within the profession.
There is even a chapter written by a university vice president, who focuses entirely on working within the academy. Altogether, these contributors prove that culturally based paradigms of leadership, historically devalued and suppressed, are crucial to women on the rise.
Halaevalu F. Ofahengaue Vakalahi is director of the masters in social work program at George Mason University. Her areas of interest concern Pacific Islander culture and community and women of color in higher education. She has served in administration and leadership positions in several institutions of higher education and in professional social work organizations. Wilma Peebles-Wilkins is dean emerita of the Boston University School of Social Work and a NASW Social Work Pioneer. She has worked as an administrator in public and private practice settings and in two major research institutions. Her leadership role in the national arena has been extensive. She has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work and on both the Council on Social Work Education and the Council on Contemporary Families.