BALTIMORE, March 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The University of Maryland School of Social Work (UMSSW) in Baltimore on Friday presented its 2012 Outstanding Recent Graduate Award to Jack Kammer, founder of The Center for Men and Boys in Social Policy and a newly-minted, 60-year-old social worker specializing in what he calls "the connection between our most vexing social problems and our failure to consider fully the social issues facing men and boys."
The award "acknowledges and honors a graduate who has demonstrated unusual accomplishments in her/his first five years of post-MSW practice."
Thomas Golden, a 1978 UMSSW alumnus, nominated Kammer by noting, "In 2008 and 2009 Jack made presentations on the small and shrinking proportion of men in social work to the National Conferences on Social Work With and For Men at the University of Alabama; in 2010 and 2011 he conducted workshops on male gender issues at the annual conferences of NASW chapters in New Mexico and North Carolina. Feedback on his presentations has been enthusiastic and overwhelmingly favorable. Jack now serves on a national commission aiming to have President Obama establish a White House Commission for Boys and Men, to mirror the White House Commission for Women and Girls he established in 2009."
Before entering the University of Maryland's dual-degree MSW/MBA program in 2005, Kammer hosted a weekly radio show called "In a Man's Shoes" on a public station near Baltimore from 1983 to 1989 and wrote three books on the social implications of male gender issues.
Social work research suggests that the gender of a social worker makes little difference to the client in the psychotherapeutic branch of social work, but in social services programs the dominance of the female perspective on relationship, family and community issues can be disadvantageous to men and boys. "Social work insists on diversity in every dimension—race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion—but not gender," Kammer says. "The shortage of men in social work is huge and growing but it's largely ignored and even welcomed by some who think social work is and should be a women's profession." Nationally, men are twelve percent of current MSW students. In 1960 the proportion was 44 percent.
"Even when social work's growing lack of gender diversity is discussed," Kammer says, "it's often dismissed as unsolvable until social work salaries rise. We need to look closely at why women, and not men, feel free to pursue professions in which financial rewards may be low, but emotional and spiritual payoffs can be high. It's curious, to say the least, that we insist on women making as much money as men, but at the same time expect men to make more money than women. The extra pressure men experience around making money is perhaps the chief disadvantage of being male that gets men into trouble."
Kammer knows whereof he speaks. After graduating with his MSW and MBA in 2008 he worked as a Correctional Officer at the Baltimore City jail for a year and is now a Parole and Probation Agent in central Baltimore. He sees the impact of male gender issues on virtually every man involved in the criminal justice system. "Many of them are convinced that they are on their own, that social institutions don't care about or understand them and so, as they put it, they have to do what they have to do. They certainly don't feel that because they are men they have 'all the power'."
Kammer has started a nonprofit consultancy called The Center for Men and Boys in Social Policy (believeinmen.org), promising "fresh, gender-specific insights about men and boys for schools, service providers, policy makers and community leaders." He wants to devote himself full-time to that effort, but philanthropies so far, he says, have been skittish about supporting his work because they know the importance of women's issues and incorrectly assume men's issues must be diametrically opposed and reactionary. Kammer hopes Friday's award will help them change their minds.
"In social justice circles," Kammer says, "we talk a lot about the overrepresentation of men at the top of the Fortune 500. And that's good. But," he points out, "we also need to talk about the disproportion of men at the bottom of what might be called the Misfortune Five Million. When we start addressing the overrepresentation of men among people who die prematurely, are imprisoned, homeless, addicted, alienated and angry, and the disproportionate number of boys who drop out of school, we will be saving ourselves a lot of trouble and a lot of money. Ensuring that the male experience is effectively and robustly represented in social work is the most fearlessly progressive step philanthropies can take in 2012."
SOURCE The Center for Men and Boys in Social Policy