||This qualitative research, carried out between 2012 and 2016 at the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (HU) in the Netherlands, explores the experiences of newly-started Turkish-Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch female professionals in social work. The key research question was how these professionals perceive and position themselves in relation to their profession.
The professionals were actively involved as co-researchers in parts of the research, doing research with peers from the same background. The last section of the research also discusses and explores the experiences of social work educators by including their perspective.
The Turkish-Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch female professionals want to bring their cultural and religious background to bear on their work as professionals. They want to bring in faith and spirituality, as this is a source of strength and support for them, and attempt to stretch the ‘boundaries’ of what it means to be a professional. They would also like to see their organisations become ‘less white’ and see more of their own ethnic group in leading positions. Along with their expertise and strengths; they want recognition, equality and dignity as Muslims and as women. The professionals do not want to ignore their personal values in their work. For them the indistinctiveness of the social work profession, together with ‘typically western’ core values (such as emancipation and individualisation), presents a challenge to their goal of developing a ‘professional identity’. They do not want to lose connection with their faith, tradition, and own community, and thereby losing strength.