Men in early childhood education
Men in early childhood education comprise a very low minority in the profession. Early childhood education is among the most female-dominated industries in terms of employment. Based on studies, estimates on the percentage of workers in the sector who are men include 1.4%, 2%, 2.4%, and 3%.
Reasons for low percentage, challenges and disadvantages
There a variety of negative factors related to men in early childhood education that are reasons for the low percentage and/or present challenges and disadvantages to men already working in the field:
- The care and education of young children is commonly seen as an extension of women’s roles as mothers. Society tends to see women as the adults who stay home and care for the children. This, society generally considers the ECE field to be a “women’s profession”, perceiving it as one where women understand it and perform much better than men.
- Many men who might otherwise consider entering the field, choose not to for fears of being labeled as gay, or not a “real man”.
- Some people perceive all women to be safe with working directly with young children, whereas any man would be considered suspect for being in the profession, having ulterior motives such as pedophilia or child abuse.
- Societally, men are typically the breadwinner of the family. But early childhood education is a low-paying field. This makes the breadwinner model much more difficult for men to follow compared to other professions.
Benefits to others
Men in early childhood education offer distinct benefits that are either rare, difficult, or impossible to attain in an all-female teacher setting:
- Whereas women tend to foster a nurturing, calm, and positive environment, men promote a more active and physical environment. This can be particularly meaningful for boys, as their styles of play, learning, and thinking are more likely to be valued, accepted, and expanded. For girls, it can expose them to new ways of playing, learning, and thinking that they may not have experienced before.
- Fathers of children will have someone that they can more closely relate to in their parenting experiences, particularly single fathers because they are raising children alone and thus will likely need to be more autonomous in their parenting life.
- Children of single mothers greatly benefit from having a father figure when there is none present in the home. This can happen for reasons such as divorce, separation, abandonment, and incarceration, among others. Additionally, such children have the opportunity experience a positive male role model.
- When there are men in their early education settings, children are able to observe and experience positive professional relationships between men and women. At a young age, children absorb much of what is modeled in front of them, so those relationships have a huge lasting impact on them.
- Male and female brains process information differently. Thus, male educators offer a new perspective when dealing with situations involving the children.
- Early childhood settings that previously had an all-female teaching staff may have had gender issues that no one recognized before. Having a male can challenge those stereotypes in relation to toys and activities.
Advantages for male educators
Due to the rarity of men in early childhood education, men who do choose to enter the profession can find it easy to obtain employment, and may have more employment options, because of the preference for hiring men. In essence, men tend to have slightly more leverage or pull compared to women with similar qualifications. This is similar to affirmative action. Men in the field may also find rapid promotions to more prestigious and/or lucrative positions compared to their female peers.
Impact on children
- "Benefits". Males in Early Childhood Education. Retrieved 2019-03-07.
- "Why is there a shortage of male early childhood educators?". Educa. 2018-01-18. Retrieved 2019-03-07.
- "Earlychildhood NEWS - Article Reading Center". www.earlychildhoodnews.com. Retrieved 2019-03-07.
- "Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity". www.bls.gov. Retrieved 2019-03-07.
- "Lack of Men in Early Childhood Education". Novak Djokovic Foundation. 2016-10-16. Retrieved 2019-03-07.