I am a 23 year old student who has recently enrolled on a Social Care course at university. Conventionally, social care profession has always been linked to women; this implies that having a male student in this profession is likely to result in high levels of stigma. Social care has been perceived traditionally as a “caring profession”; as people tend to associate its caring nature with femininity. In a profession dominated by women, man pursuing such a profession is likely to be perceived as an anomaly. In the wake of this view, there is the need to critically explore what motivates a male individual to embark on social care profession. As for my case, I enrolled in the social care profession because I wanted to reform and work with juvenile delinquents and was primarily motivated by the members of my family and a close friend to enter to this field through social care. I think it is about securing a job that would allow me to do the most good in the society, which I believe, in a broader context, is the primary role of social care practitioners. Broadly defined, social care entails working together with individuals who are disadvantaged, marginalized or have special needs. For instance, social care practitioners can work with homeless individuals; people who have drug/alcohol dependency; and families among others. In this regard, I believe that the ultimate role of a social care practitioner is to make the society a better place. I prefer working with juvenile delinquents because I perceive it as a suitable course for a male social care practitioner.
Social care practitioners interact directly with people; as a result, the society at large has expectations on the social care practitioners, especially with regard to the role of making the society a better place. Fundamentally, the society expects a social care practitioner to improve the social well-being of members of the society in diverse life circumstances. I would argue that social care occupies the void between the society and the individual, which plays an integral role in interpreting individual behavior and actions and mediating the requirements, rules and value of the society as they influence the individual. In this regard, a social care practitioner must have an understanding of how the individual interacts with the society and vice versa and the resulting impact on one’s economic, social and personal life. Therefore, the society expects that social care professionals play a forefront role in safeguarding the well-being of individuals, communities and families. It is imperative to note that this role in not gender-biased; however, a social care practitioner must choose a field that is a fit with his gender. Other expectations when carrying out this role include respect for individual dignity; protecting children and vulnerable individuals from potential exploitation, abuse and neglect; fairness and transparency during professional decision-making; and advocacy for social justice.
Families also play a significant role in carrying out this role; this stems from the fact that a families are the fundamental building blocks of a society. Therefore, the expectations arising from the individual and the community are the same as the expectations from the family with regard to the role of a social care practitioner. My family have played an important role in motivating me to enroll in a course that would help me transform the society, and social care is a pathway towards that life objective. With this in mind, my family is more interested in tracking my progress as a social care professional. So far, I have had both positive and negative experience. Negative experience stems from the stigma associated with being a male student in a female-dominated profession. The positive experience is that the course will provide me with an opportunity to do good for the society.
With regard to individual values, I believe in transforming the society using any available opportunity that allows one to do so. I perceive the role of a male social care practitioner to be in perfect fit with my individual values. My individual values are based on concern for others and commitment to improving the society. It is evident that there is a correlation between these individual values and my enrollment as a social care practitioner, which implies that my personal values and beliefs are important in defining who I am. Developing one’s value-base and thinking is imperative for one to become a successful social care practitioner; this draws on the fact that social care is entirely about relationships and values. Service users have a tendency to be extremely open with the social care practitioners, after which reliability respect, trust, challenging discrimination and honesty ensure. Working effectively as a social care practitioner requires one to be guided by his/her individual values in order to tackle any challenges associated with the profession. Despite the fact that I am yet to practice, I reckon that a male social care practitioner could create a fresh point of view to engage with men involved in, for instance, child abuse or domestic violence. From an individual standpoint, I think that having male practitioners in social care would not only improve the discipline, but also make it different. The current underrepresentation of male practitioners in social care requires an understanding of male issues relating to the profession.