Revising McPhail’s Feminist Policy Analysis Framework

Updates for Use in Contemporary Social Policy Research


  • Heather Kanenberg University of Houston-Clear Lake
  • Roberta Leal University of Houston-Clear Lake
  • Stephen "Arch" Erich University of Houston-Clear Lake



feminist, policy, policy analysis, intersectionality, social work


In 2003, McPhail published a Feminist Policy Analysis Framework concluding that the many available methods of policy analysis across disciplines, including social work, treated policies as gender-neutral compositions. McPhail (2003) asserted that these methods denied the many ways that institutions and policies of society are organized by the concepts of gender, therefore presenting incomplete products of analysis. This guiding purpose for the development of McPhail’s (2003) Feminist Policy Analysis Framework endures a full fifteen years later. In the years since publication of McPhail’s Framework, advancements have been made in both feminist theory and in policy analysis methods. This conceptual article outlines a much-needed revision moving the framework into a contemporary position with the inclusion of a focus on privilege, oppression, and intersectionality. The revised framework presented herein is a more conceptually comprehensive and practical model for use by all, but particularly social work students and scholars. The revised model represents an update rendering it more effective in today’s polarized political climate as well as with the recently revised social work educational policy (Council on Social Work Education, 2015). A revised framework of Feminist Intersectional Policy Analysis is presented, including guiding questions and conceptual complexities to consider in the work of analysis.

Author Biographies

Heather Kanenberg, University of Houston-Clear Lake

Dr. Kanenberg is an Associate Professor at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and serves as the Program Director of the BSW Program.

Roberta Leal, University of Houston-Clear Lake

Dr. Leal is an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and serves as the Field Director in the BSW Program.

Stephen "Arch" Erich, University of Houston-Clear Lake

Dr. Erich is Professor Emeritus at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and served as the Program Director of the BSW Program for over 15 years.


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