Professional Conflict in Social Worker Development: Transdisciplinary Challenges for Women of Color

  • Wendy Ashley California State University Northridge Social Work Department
  • Sandra Santracruz-Cervantes California State University Northridge
  • Tina Karnsomprot Castro California State University Northridge


Field instruction is the signature pedagogy of most Masters of Social Work programs, providing students with a context to practice and integrate the academic material they have studied in the classroom.  It is a core belief that field experiences offer opportunities for professional growth and development - students are encouraged to reframe difficult experiences as a learning challenge that will inform their professional lens.  However, the role of conflict among professionals throughout the collaborative process may impact women of color differently.  The racial and gender imbalances in social work education and the service sector are disheartening.  Navigating the differences between professional conflict and systemic silencing based on color and gender lines is a life lesson for many students of color not addressed in MSW classrooms.  These narratives focus on the different perspectives of women social workers of color at disparate levels:  A seasoned licensed supervisor and an MSW student grapple with conflict and attempt to collaborate effectively with professionals from various disciplines in field placement.  The narratives explore the challenges inherent in navigating a multi-disciplinary team, and coming to terms with questions that spring from systemic racial and gender equality that is firmly in place.

Author Biography

Wendy Ashley, California State University Northridge Social Work Department

Assistant Professor, Social Work Department