For years research has shown that men are far less likely to work in childcare, especially in early childhood educational programs. According to the 2012 labor statistics, a mere 2 percent of American early childhood educators and 5 percent of organized child care providers are male. While the amount of male educators increases to 18 percent in elementary school, it is not until secondary education levels where students are most likely to encounter their first male teacher. What’s more, in many cases the prevalence of male educators decreased across the board from 2009 to 2012. While more recent numbers are not yet available through the U.S. Department of Labor, education researchers expect the gender breakdown to be consistent with historical trends.
The National Public Radio recently resurfaces the issue of the prominent gender imbalance in young children’s education through an investigatory piece which examined the impact of New York’s newly enacted early childhood education statutes. Despite the abundance of employment opportunities generated by the statutes, early reports indicate that male early childhood educators are still few and far between.
The big question remains, why this imbalance remains so prevalent. The answer is quite complex. Studies show that men can play an important role in the development of young children, and experts say that male teachers can play a particularly important role models for children who grow up without father figures. However, there are a number of other factors which continue to contribute to the female dominant culture of early and young childhood education such as pay scale and structure as well as cultural biases.
Parental apprehension and cultural stigma remain the largest hurdles for male educators to overcome, especially when it comes to caring for younger children. These gender biases and misconceptions are deeply rooted throughout American culture which in turn impact perception, therefore creating a lofty hurdle for male educators to overcome. In some cases hiring a male caregiver or educator, could even be perceived as liability concern for the educational institution. While the notion that male educators pose a greater liability threat to an educational institution than their female counterparts is misguided and unfounded, public perception and cultural influence has a lot to do with this though process. Not hiring a candidate on the basis of gender is a direct violation of equal opportunity employment regulations; however men seem to weed themselves out from educational careers more often than any poor employment practices. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that early childhood education is distinctly lacking men.
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