The (In)visibility of Gender Diversity in Graduate Level Education

While the abstract below refers to the lack of education on gender diversity in graduate level psychology programs and to the pathologization of gender diversity in related literature, it’s clear that the reification of heteronormative gender roles is also rampant in the field of social work (Hicks, 2014). As someone who holds master’s degrees in both psychology and social work, I experienced this phenomenon first hand twice, and as someone whose practice provides support for underserved individuals in the trans* community, I’ve taken it upon myself to correct this gap in my education. My efforts have also been motivated by identifying as non-binary/gender fluid, though I say this knowing that I benefit from the privilege that goes along with being presumed to be cis female in most circles. However, it is not solely for personal and professional reasons that I am posting the abstract to this article. Clinicians, educators, and other service providers have a responsibility to understand gender and sexual diversity—it is crucial not only to avoid further stigmatizing underserved populations, but this is the most direct route towards recognizing the diversity that exists (often invisibly) in every individual. Knowledge is powerful, and I believe that instilling a heightened awareness of diversity in future psychologists and social workers has the power to relieve constraints against freedom of expression for all individuals, and create a more tolerant and accepting society overall.

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Peering into Gaps in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:
Student Perspectives on Gender and Informing Education
by Jessica Joseph, Dulcinea Pitagora, Adrian Tworecke, and Kailey Roberts (2013)
The Society for International Education Journal:
Engaging with Difference, Gender and Sexuality in Education, 7
(1), 104-127

Abstract: At the intersection of psychology and critical theories, graduate students in psychology are uniquely situated to analyze the pedagogical assumptions and practices that shape constructions of gender normativity in the field. Writing from the perspective of current students, we examine how the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition Text-Revision’s (DSM-IV-TR) work group members represent gender in their own publications. In line with previous criticisms, we suggest that many of the work group members uphold traditional binary systems; perpetuate statistical reinforcement and social loops; and pathologize (or deem developmentally lagging) gender diverse behavior. We question whether the DSM-IV-TR has been revised by diverse voices and make recommendations on how graduate-level curricula might broaden its pedagogy to include more fluid and inclusive concepts of gender expression.

A full-text PDF of the journal issue this article was published in can be downloaded here; the article begins on page 104.

While the Hicks article I mentioned above reviews “various theorizations of gender” (e.g., poststructural and postmodern feminism, queer and trans theory, material and structural, ethnomethodological, performative, and discursive) “to highlight ways in which social work may be limited in the versions that it prioritizes” (p. 13), it is exceedingly valuable to fields and schools of thought reaching far beyond the scope of social work. I highly recommend reading it! Here’s the citation:

Hicks, S. (2014). Social work and gender: An argument for practical accounts. Qualitative Social Work, 0(00), 1-17.

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