If a primary school staff and a secondary school staff were in the same room, it would be extremely easy to determine which staff was which based on their gender. There would be more male teachers in the secondary staff than there would be in the primary staff. Male primary school teachers are about as rare as seeing a unicorn run across your backyard. That’s pretty rare.
According to the Department of Education statistics, only 26 percent of teachers in England are men. They make up 38 percent of the secondary teachers and only 15 percent of the primary. According to the Education Department data in the United States, more than 75 percent of all teachers from kindergarten through high school are women. Three decades ago, 66 percent of all teachers were women, so the disparity in gender has been even more on the rise in the last thirty years.
There is a definite snowball effect coming into play. With so few current male teachers, less and less men are actually even graduating with an honours in Education in university. It is affecting male graduate’s decisions. Do they want to enter a profession that is dominated by women? There is similar thinking in the medical field. There are not many male nurses across the globe compared to female nurses. We are at risk of slowly reducing men’s presence more and more in the education field.
Why the Lack of Men?
There are several reasons why few males are entering the world of education. If it were only one reason or two, the problem could be much easier to correct. But men are facing difficulties that make the idea of becoming a teacher less than desirable.
One serious problem is the pay. Men are looked at still as the main breadwinner in the family. The man is supposed to have the higher paying job according to history. Unfortunately, teachers’ salaries are growing less than the national average for salaries in other professions. Speak to any family living on just a teacher’s salary, and you will hear that they are just surviving. They definitely are not prospering. And that is after six years of university level education for many teachers because a Masters degree will give you a slight salary bump. If you look at other careers that require six years of university level education, you will see a huge income disparity between professions.
Another problem is that teaching is viewed as a low-status profession in this day and age. While many years ago it was a different story. Educators were looked at as the pillars of the community. They were to be respected mightily and placed up on a pedestal for others to appreciate. Teaching was the noblest of all professions.
The times have changed greatly. No longer do all parents treat the teachers with respect. The government even proclaims that teachers are part of the problem. They say that teachers must be held accountable by using standardised testing. Is there any wonder why so few men are graduating with degrees in Education? The status quo no longer hold educators in such high esteem.
How Do We Reduce the Gender Gap?
There is no easy answer on how to solve the gender gap problem in Education. It is essential that more men enter the profession since it gives children male role models that they might not have otherwise. The amount of single-parent families in our society is staggering, with many not having a father even in the picture. Having a father figure present in a child’s life can make all the difference in the world.
Unfortunately, salaries in many school districts are currently frozen because of the lack of funding by the government. If a teacher is in one of the districts that is lucky enough not to be frozen, the raises are minimal. Educators are not going to receive an increase in pay, enough to draw the attention of men choosing degrees in university, anytime soon. Recruiting men to enrol in Education classes is probably not going to have much effect because of this.
Teaching has to be looked at as a calling. If more men felt that way, that working with children was the most important thing they could do with their lives, then there would be more male teachers. There has to be a change in the thinking that people are in Education just to have the summers off. Teaching still has to be looked at as the noblest profession, and more men will want to become educators.
As a male primary school teacher myself, I have taught in districts where I am the lone man in the building besides the maintenance staff. Knowing that you will primarily be working with all women during your teaching career can be a bit disheartening. The trend of less and less male teachers in school districts across the globe should be an alarming one. If teachers were perceived as the professionals that they are, then I believe that this trend would start to be reversed for the better.