Você está na página 1de 29

Head of the Class:

A Survey of Male Attitudes Toward Teaching in Early Childhood Education

McKenna Michell Keenan


Undergraduate Student
Saint Mary’s College
Notre Dame, IN 46556
(574) 284-4429
mkeena01@saintmarys.edu

Advisor: Susan Alexander


Department of Sociology
Saint Mary’s College
(574) 284-4728
salexand@saintmarys.edu

ABSTRACT

This research project surveyed male educators from the Listserv, MenTeach.org to
examine their attitudes and perceptions towards teaching in Early Childhood Education.
Males in this profession are viewed as deviating from the socially prescribed gender role.
This study involves a survey that asked the respondents open-ended and closed-ended
questions about demographics, attitudes, and perceptions in regard to Early Childhood
Male Educators. Factors included the location of schools, salary, experience, and the
societal roles and attitudes. Most respondents were comfortable with their role in society
as an educator, but they did experience negativity from society in regards to their motives
for entering the profession.

1
Head of the Class: A Survey of Male Attitudes Toward Teaching in Early Childhood
Education

There is a lack of men working in the field of early childhood education.

Jackman (2005: 12) defines early childhood education as “the curriculum, programs, and

settings that serve young children, from birth through the eighth year of life.” The

presence of males in early child education is often hidden or unknown. Individuals

sometimes have problems accepting others who deviate from the social norm. For

example, males working in Early Childhood Education are often questioned about their

motives for entering the field. The purpose of this paper is to define male’s attitudes and

perceptions toward teaching in Early Childhood Education. In particular, this study seeks

to understand how males view their role in educating, the barriers for men entering into

education, why males choose education, the biases or stereotypes men face as early

childhood educators, and the retention rate of men working in early childhood education.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Importance of men in Early Childhood Education

The father of the kindergarten movement, Frederick Froebel, had an all-male staff

for the first kindergarten that opened in 1837; in fact, women only began teaching after

Froebal married (Clyde 1994). Teachers, both female and male are viewed by their

students as a stable, adult figure in their lives; therefore, Rodriguez (1997) argues that it

is imperative that schools have both men and women represented in their faculty.

2
Barnard (2000: 17) argues that “men in early childhood education are thought to break

traditional stereotypes about male careers.” Barnard (2000) believes that men should be

encouraged to enter early childhood education because they serve as positive male role

models. Since the 1970s the important role of men in the field of early childhood

education has been acknowledged (Barnard 2000). Farquhar (1997: 5) states “social

learning theory supports the popular belief about the importance of the “male” influence

on the development of children’s behavior and attitudes up to about the age of eight

years.”

According to Barnard (2000), children benefit from the presence of men in the

classroom and the greater the number of men working with children better reflects the

diversity of the world. Clyde (1997) notes that although men, by preference, may opt for

physical activities, they can still meet the child’s needs socially, emotionally, and

cognitively. Farquhar (1997) finds that boys are more likely to relate to and imitate a

male rather than a female teacher. Barnard (2000: 18-19) noted “having men involved in

early childhood education would allow children to see that men can be nurturing, loving,

and understanding” and the early bonds between males and children can help clear the

stereotype of women being the nurturing gender.

Scarcity of men

According to Barnard (2000), the number of men working in early childhood

education is low. Only 12 percent of elementary teachers nationwide are men and the

majority of them teach in the upper level elementary grades leaving very few in early

childhood education (Rodriguez 1997). According to Clyde (1997), women thought the

3
limited number of males in the early childhood profession was due to a lack of public

acceptance, lack of promotional pay and opportunities, stigma of male involvement and

child abuse, and conflict of males performing basic care tasks.

Barnard (2000) finds that a reason for scarcity of men in early childhood

education includes the gender stereotypes that hold that women create a more nurturing

environment, provide a more moral example than men, and are viewed as fulfilling the

role of nurturer and teacher for young children. Additionally, Santiago (1999: 4) found

“that some men may feel that teaching young children is not a masculine job and think

that it is best suited for women.”

Emergent issues for men

Barnard (2000) noted that two main barriers that prevent men from entering the

field of early childhood education include the lack of status associated with teaching

young children and the low salary earned. Cooney and Bittner (2001) surveyed males

enrolled in early childhood education courses and identified six emergent issues

experienced by men choosing to study early childhood education including: low salaries,

family and other influences to enter the field, teaching beyond the basics, improving pre-

service education, recruitment of males into the field, and advantages and disadvantages

of being males in a field dominated by women.

According to Cooney (2001), the public perceives teaching to be an undemanding

occupation with low salaries. Cooney (2001: 78) found that men “wanted to be the sole

provider for the family and worried that the low salary would put their spouse and

children in jeopardy.” Farquhar (1997) also found that wage-level or earnings is an

4
important factor for men. Rodriguez (1997) found that 60% of the men surveyed would

leave the field based on the low pay.

In addition, potential male teachers are lost from the field of early childhood

education due to college classroom bias. Males want to study in a gender- neutral

learning environment and they expressed feeling uncomfortable or isolated talking with

female colleagues about their classroom issues. Male education students expressed the

desire to have other males as their mentors, according to Cooney (2001). Additionally,

Santiago (1999) argues that some men do not enter the field because they have a fear of

being labeled as a pedophile or being falsely accused of sexual abuse. Rodriquez (1997:

9) agrees that the “threat of suspicion, false reports, and mostly, conviction of an abuse or

harassment charge” is a major reason that keeps men from pursuing a career in early

childhood education.

Recruitment and retention of men

Since many males on predominantly female staffs tend to feel isolated, Barnard

(2000) argues that it is important to recruit and hire as many men as possible. Cooney

(2001: 80) found that “having other males as role models was seen as an affirmation of

their career choice to see another male who made the same choice.” Even if males are

successfully recruited into early childhood education, retaining them can be difficult.

Barnard (2000) argues that it is important for the work environment to feel safe, to value

males, and to show support for their professional and personal growth. In addition, males

and females should be assigned similar tasks, and tasks should not be stereotypical of a

man’s athletic or mechanical skills.

5
Santiago (1999) found that females who have previously worked with males are

more welcoming and do not practice prejudice or carry out stereotypes towards their male

colleagues. However, Barnard (2000) found that female early childhood educators

believe that the salary is inadequate in order to recruit males; therefore, incentives such as

signing bonuses or releasing college loans would be helpful. Farquhar (1997: 8) found

“an improvement in wages would be one way of raising the status of teaching and at the

same time attract more men into the profession.” Barnard (2000) suggests that media

campaigns displaying the unique roles men could play in early childhood education may

help recruit men into the field, and advertisements might display early male childhood

education as socially important in order to encourage males to apply.

Why men choose to teach?

Santiago (1999) found that men chose to teach for altruistic reasons. For

example, interviews with four males currently teaching in early childhood education

revealed the reasons for males entering the field. These reasons included encouragement

from family and friends, previous job dissatisfaction, desire to be a teacher throughout

life, following in a family member’s footsteps, and an overall love for teaching (Santiago

1999). Men also remained in early childhood education for altruistic reasons that

included: opportunities to nurture, contribute something to this age group, and general

love and enjoyment of working with young children (Santiago 1999).

Rodriguez (1997: 8) reports “most men who teach agree that they feel like a

strong influential role model to their students, both boys and girls.” To assess what men

think about teaching at the early childhood education level. Rodriguez (1997) surveys 20

6
males currently working in the field. Rodriguez (1997: 10) says “most of those who

responded (65%) reported they are in the field of early childhood education because they

love working with children.”

Children need educators of both sexes, but women are more predominant in the

field. For sociologists interested in gender issues, it is important to assess why men

choose or elect not to be in a predominantly female occupation like early childhood

education.

MASCULINITY THEORY

For many individuals, the difference between sex and gender is unclear.

According to Kimmel (1997: 1), sex is defined as the biological trait that categorized

individuals in society as either male or female and gender is “a central, primordial

experience, one that permeates every aspect of social life, constructing the values,

attitudes, and behaviors that constitute cultural experience.” In other words, gender is

socially constructed.

Men and women have different gendered experiences; they are socialized to act,

speak, think, and feel in gendered ways. Therefore, both males and females experience

opportunities and obstacles throughout their lives based primarily on their socially

constructed gender. While women’s gendered experiences have been greatly studied

during the past three decades, research on men’s gendered experience is relatively new.

Cohen (2001: 2) argues that “men’s lives are shaped by cultural and social structural

forces that act upon them because they’re men.” This section will focus on social

7
construction theory about “men and masculinity” and how this theoretical perspective

may help sociologists better understand men in nontraditional settings, such as early

childhood education careers.

Gender defined

The concepts of gender and biological sex are often confused. Studies in social

and behavioral sciences frequently list gender according to two categories: males and

females. Kimmel (1997) argues that duality is limited. Instead, social scientist should

move beyond the essentialist concept of gender-appropriate behavior. Since gender refers

to the socially constructed meanings attached to sexes, gender varies from culture to

culture. Kimmel (1997) also notes that gender varies and changes over time, within

different subgroups, and during any individual’s lifetime. “Gender is a process—

negotiated, contested, interactive. Gender is embodied by men and women, applied to

those gendered bodies, and inscribed in the artifacts of material life” (Kimmel 1997: 2).

Masculinity defined

According to Kimmel in Manhood in America: A Cultural History (2006), the

definition of masculinity has changed over time. He argues that the experiences and

activities of American men need to be explored. Kimmel (2006: 3) further argues “the

quest for manhood—the effort to achieve, to demonstrate, to prove our masculinity—has

been one of the formative and persistent experiences in men’s lives.” However, most

men remain unaware of the central role of gender in their lives. Therefore, men

unconsciously help to continue the inequality of gender.

8
For Kimmel, manhood is not static, timeless, a manifestation of the inner essence,

nor is manhood a biological essentialism. Manhood is created within a content specific

culture; therefore, it is socially constructed. Kimmel (2006: 3) argues “to be a man in

America depends heavily on one’s class, race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, region of the

country.” In the United States, there is often a singular vision of masculinity to which

men compare themselves, a hegemonic ideal.

In an important sense there is only one complete unblushing male in

America: a young, married, white, urban, northern, heterosexual,

Protestant, father, of college education, fully employed, of good

complexion, weight, and height, and a recent record in sports….Any male

who fails to qualify in any one of these ways is likely to view himself—

during moments at least—as unworthy, incomplete, and inferior (Kimmel

2006: 4).

Kimmel (2006) argues that manhood is not about the drive for domination, rather it is

about the fear men have of others dominating, and holding power or control over them.

According to the hegemonic ideal in the United States, men are afraid of being viewed as

weak, timid, less manly, or failing to measure up to what it means to be a man in

America. Kimmel( 2006: 7) is interested in “what they [men] were told that they were

supposed to do, feel, and think and what happened in response to those prescriptions.”

9
Just Because They’re Men

Using a theoretical framework that is similar to Kimmel, Cohen (2001) explores

the experiences of men due to gender roles. Cohen (2001) argues that there is diversity

among men, but all men are measured against a standard that society has in terms of

expected and accepted masculinity behaviors, a “hegemonic masculinity.” Cohen (2001:

2) emphasizes that “upbringing and opportunities and obstacles indicate that men’s lives

are products of the socialization they’ve experienced, the statuses they occupy, and the

subsequent roles they play.” Cohen (2001) finds that women believe the benefits of

being male includes higher pay and not having to worry about childcare; while some of

the costs include the pressure to be the breadwinner and restricted intimacy, specifically

in relations with children.

For Cohen, the accepted behavior “do’s and don’ts” of masculinity illustrate the

sociological concept of role. “Gendered roles are socially acquired through processes of

socialization and interaction” (Cohen 2001: 5). Display is the way in which a man

reveals verbally or nonverbally that he fits masculine ideals. Cohen (2001: 5) defines

gender ideals as “the shared beliefs or models of gender that a majority of society accepts

as appropriate masculinity.” Cohen (2001: 4) argues “All men don’t share the same fate

or fortune. Thus, another major emphasis… is to illustrate some distinctions in men’s

lives.” Thus, some behaviors, such as teaching early childhood education may be

viewed as deviating from the socially prescribed male gender role.

10
Men at Work

Kimmel (1992: 201) poses the question: “Do men gain a sense of fulfillment

from their work or view it as necessary drudgery?” According to Cohen (2001: 25),

“most societies rank genders according to prestige and power and construct them to be

unequal, so that moving form one to another also mean moving up and down the social

scale.” In the past, women were more apt to work at home; thus, the male “breadwinner”

role was born (Kimmel 1992). The pressure to be a successful breadwinner is, at times,

according to Kimmel, a source of strain and conflict rather than a source of pride and

motivation.

Williams (2001) examined how men and women are generally confined to

predominantly single sex occupations despite the nearly equal proportion of men and

women in the workforce. While prior studies have focused on women in the male

dominated occupations, Williams (2001: 211) argues “few have looked at the ‘flip-side’

of occupational sex segregation: the exclusion of men from predominantly female

occupations.” Williams examines the occupation of elementary school teachers.

Williams assumes that discrimination takes place for any member of a token

group including men working in female occupations. In 1990, males represented only

14.8 percent of individuals working in the field of elementary education (Williams 2001).

Williams (2001) conducted in-depth interviews with 76 men and 23 women who work in

the four predominantly female occupations during the years 1985 to 1991. Williams

(2001) found discrimination against men takes place in the female-centered workplace.

For example, one rural Texas school district refused to hire men in the primary age

classrooms, which is kindergarten through third grade. Williams (2001) also noted that in

11
the predominantly female professions, males often experience a “glass escalator,”

meaning that masculinity is often a path to rise quickly to a higher position. For example,

one male kindergarten teacher showed interest in remaining in the classroom, yet he felt

that “there’s been some encouragement to think about administration… to think about

teaching at the university level or something like that, or supervisory-type position”

(Williams 2001: 214).

Williams (2001: 219) argues “the most compelling evidence of discrimination

against men in these professions is related to their dealings with the public.” Williams

found that men often change their behavior when working directly with women and

children to prevent sexual abuse charges; thus, men become distressed by these negative

and often false stereotypes. Williams (2001: 220) states, “many of the men in my sample

identified stigma of working in a female-identified occupation as the major barrier to

more men entering their professions.”

Men working in early childhood education are often questioning about their role

in society. Their profession is viewed as primarily a female occupation, so men must

defend their choices and reasoning for working with young children. The males in this

field face obstacles throughout their life since gender is socially constructed.

METHODS

Procedure

For this study, a survey was created on www.surveymonkey.com (see Appendix

A). One benefit of this process is that a web based survey is much faster and cheaper to

12
administer than alternative survey techniques. A web based survey also has weakness

because not everyone has access to the internet, it may not provide privacy, and/ or cause

a person to participate more than once. An email was sent out to the listserv members of

menteach.org asking for participants to complete the survey. Participants went to the

directed link and answered 27 questions. The questions included open and close ended

questions about the respondent’s demographic, job satisfaction, and career choice. The

survey was available on-line from October 5, 2006 to November 2, 2006.

Participants

Participants in the survey were identified through the website and listserv at Men

Teach (www.menteach.org). Listserv members were male educators who worked with

young children ages zero to eight years old. The total sample included 28 participants.

The respondents were between the age of 30 and 69 years old. The average age was

48.39 years old. Sixty-one percent of the informants were over the age of 50, while 39%

were below the age of 50. The oldest respondent was 69 years old, while the youngest

was 30 years old. The racial/ ethnic identity was: white (68%), Asian (3.6%), European

(14%), Native American (3.6%), African American (3.6%), and other (7.2%). Five

informants had obtained a doctorate degree (18.5%), ten respondents earned a Bachelor

of Arts or Science (37%), twelve of the informants (44.4%) obtained a Master’s degree.

The respondents were asked if they had formal training in Early Childhood Education.

Twenty four (85.7%) responded affirmatively that they had received formal training.

Three (10.7%) replied that they did not received training and one (3.6%) did not respond

to the question.

13
FINDINGS

The survey was constructed so that the respondents were asked to answer open-

ended and closed-ended questions about demographics, attitudes, and perceptions in

regards to Early Childhood Male Educators. Table 1 shows the comparison of age and

race of the male educators. The data shows that among men subscribing to an Early

Educator Listserv, the majority are white and over the age of 50.

Table 1: Age and Race of Early Childhood Educators

Race Age 30-39 40-49 50+ Totals


White 4 (14.3%) 3 (10.7%) 12 (42.9%) 19 (67.9%)
European 0 (0%) 1 (3.6%) 3 (10.7%) 4 (14.3%)
Other 1 (3.6%) 0 (0%) 1 (3.6%) 2 (7.1%)
Asian 1 (3.6%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (3.6%)
Native American 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (3.6%) 1 (3.6%)
African American 0 (0%) 1 (3.6%) 0 (0%) 1 (3.6%)
Totals 6 (21.4%) 5 (17.9%) 17 (60.7%) 28 (100%)

The average number of years teaching experience held by the informants was 18

years. The shortest amount of years teaching was zero or two years and the most was 20

plus or 35 years. The average amount of years each respondent spent teaching children

ages zero to eight was 14.36 years. The shortest amount of time in early childhood

education was zero or two years and the longest amount of time was 20 plus or 35 years.

Table 2 shows the comparison of the age of educators and how long they have

taught children ages 0-8. This table shows that educators over the age of 50 spent the

longest time in the field, since six respondents replied they had taught children ages 0-8

for 26 or more years. Additionally, six men over they age of 50 had only been teaching

14
ages 0-8 for 10 or less years. This may be an indicator of a career change. It should be

noted that 17 of the respondents are over the age of 50 which makes for an old population

to study.

Table 2: Age and Years Teaching Ages 0-8 for Early Childhood Educators

Years Age 30-39 40-49 50+ Totals


Teaching
Ages 0-8
0-5 1 (3.6%) 1 (3.6%) 3 (10.7%) 5 (17.9%)
6-10 4 (14.3%) 1 (3.6%) 3 (10.7%) 8 (28.6%)
11-15 0 (0%) 2 (7.1%) 2 (7.1%) 4 (14.3%)
16-19 1 (3.6%) 0 (0%) 1 (3.6%) 2 (7.1%)
20-25 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 2 (7.1%) 2 (7.1%)
26-30 0 (0%) 1 (3.6%) 5 (17.9%) 6 (21.4%)
31-35 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (3.6%) 1 (3.6%)
Totals 6 (21.4%) 5 (17.9%) 17 (60.7%) 28 (100%)

Males are not predominant figures in schools. The average number of male

teachers at each school was 2.32. Seven (25%) responded that there were zero males at

their school. The largest number of male teachers at one school was 14. The average

number of male early childhood educators was 1.52 per school. The least was zero and

the most was 10 teachers at one school.

The location of the schools was almost split amongst the three types of locations.

Thirty-two percent (8) of the respondents taught in rural areas and 32% (8) in urban

areas. The majority of the schools, 36% (9), were suburban. Twenty (80%) of the

respondents were located within the United States of America including eight in

California, three in Texas, two in Massachusetts, and the remaining were in various

states. Five (20%) respondents were located outside of the USA: two in Norway and one

15
each in Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand. Graph 1: Location of School, shows the

distribution of where the teachers schools are located.

Graph 1: Location of School

The educators were then asked a series of questions in regards to factors affecting

their decisions to entering the field. When asked, “Do you feel school administrators

attempt to dissuade males from teaching at the early childhood level?,” 11 (45.8%)

replied yes, six (25%) responded no, and seven (29.2%) were unsure of how to respond to

the question. The respondents were asked if they believed that if schools provided more

opportunities for young men to work with younger children more men would become

early childhood teachers. 21 (87.5%) responded yes, while one (4.2%) replied no and

two (8.3%) were unsure.

The informants were asked if they believed that providing men who enter the

early childhood profession with signing bonuses would increase the number of men

teaching in early education. Over half, 13 (54.2%) said yes, five (20.8%) said no, and six

(25%) were unsure. In response to do you believe that men be more likely to accept a

position in early childhood if they were assured the school was committed to hiring more

16
than one man in this program, the majority with 17 (70.8%) replied yes, five (20.8%) said

no, and two (8.3%) were unsure.

A major factor about any career is salary. The males were asked general questions

about their perceptions in regards to the money they earned. The average approximate

wage for beginning school teachers was $20,000 to $25,000 with seven (28%) responses.

Four (16%) responses were $20,000 and below. Two (8%) were between $25,000 and

$30,000. There were six (24%) respondents in both the $30,000 to $35,000 and over

$35,000 beginning salary range. Then, the respondents were asked if the wages of Early

Childhood Educators were adequate to recruit men into the profession. Four (16%) felt

the beginning wages were adequate, while 17 (68%) did not feel the wages were adequate

in order to recruit men into the Early Childhood profession. Four (16%) were unsure of

how to respond. The respondents were asked if they believed the long range salary

projections would influence male’s decisions how long they intend to remain as an Early

Childhood Educator. Sixteen (64%) responded yes, six (24%) said no, and three (12%)

were unsure.

The majority, 20 (80%), felt that male educators tend to move into another

occupational field outside classroom teaching due to the potential for greater earnings.

8% (2) said no and 12% (3) were unsure. When asked if they had considered leaving

teaching as a career in order to earn a larger salary, the decision was split. Both 50%

responded yes and no.

The educators were asked what the main influences were for them entering the

field of education. The respondents were asked if their decision to become an early

childhood teacher was influenced by having a male elementary school teacher who they

17
perceived as a role model. Two (8.33%) responded yes, 19 (79.2%) responded no, and

three (12.5%) were unsure. Similarly, they were asked if their decision to become an

early childhood teacher was influenced by their experiences working with any other male

elementary school teachers. Three (12.5%) replied yes, 19 (79.2%) said no, and two

(8.33%) were unsure of how to respond. The male educators were asked if their decision

to become a teacher was influenced by having a family member or friend in the teaching

profession. The responses were almost split. Thirteen (54.2%) teachers responded yes,

while 11 (45.8%) respondents said no. The informants were asked if their decision to

pursue a career in early childhood was made more difficult due to an awareness of the

low numbers of men working in the field. Eight (33.3%) informants said yes, 15 (62.5%)

said no, and one (4.2%) was unsure.

In regards to the larger attitudes and perceptions of society in general, the

respondents were asked if they felt the parents of the children in their school were

supportive and accepting of males in the early childhood profession. Nineteen (79.2%)

of the respondents felt that the parents supported them in the classroom while five

(20.8%) said no or were unsure. The male educators were asked if they felt their local

community as a whole was accepting of males in the early childhood profession.

Thirteen (54.2%) felt that their community in general was supportive, five (20.8%)

respondents did not think their community was supportive, and six (25%) were unsure of

how they thought the community felt about them as early childhood educators.

The majority of the respondents (90.5%) felt that individuals in American society

negatively perceive the motives of men who choose a career in early childhood

education. One said that American society did not negatively perceive males, while one

18
respondent was unsure. Fifteen (62.5%) male educators felt isolated as an early

childhood educator with so few men in the profession. Seven (29.2%) did not feel

isolated, and one (3.6%) informant was unsure. Graph 2 shows the yes, no, and unsure

responses of the informants in regards to attitudes and perceptions of different members

in society.

Graph 2: Social Factors Influencing Male Educators

The informants were asked if they felt that they cannot act in the same manner as

female coworkers in situations such as being alone with children or displaying affection

towards them. Twelve (52.2%) responded yes, 10 (43.5%) said no, and one (4.4%) was

unsure. In similarity, the respondents were asked if they think the potential for

accusations of sexual abuse of children in a male teacher’s classroom cause some males

to avoid early childhood education. The majority 22 (91.7%) replied yes and only two

(8.3%) said no. When asked if male teachers get a higher pay or take higher prestige

positions from female teachers, five (20.8%) said yes, 16 (66.7%) said no, and three

(12.5%) were unsure.

19
The informants were asked why they chose to become a teacher. Some shared

responses included the love of children, always wanting to be a teacher, and acting as a

male role model. One respondent replied, “To change the world we live in. To influence

what tomorrow looks like. To make a difference in children's lives.” Another said, “I

wanted to impact children's lives in a positive way. In many families, there are no males.

With families becoming split, and the mother raising the children, many children need a

male influence in their lives. Studies show that if a child has a male role model, then the

child will benefit from it later in life.” All the responses to this question were positive as

most respondents noted they were influenced by a loved one or had a deep passion for

teaching and working with young children. Furthermore, the respondents were asked

why they specifically chose Early Childhood Education. Respondents stated that they

loved children, wanted to be a male role model, and set the foundation for further

development. One informant said, “I am a kid magnet. When I decided to go back to

school, the requirements for elementary school were restrictive both with money and

time. I enjoy the freedom of ECE.” Another informant said, “Young children are my

favorite age to inspire.”

The respondents were asked if they faced any stereotypes and/ or biases from

being in male early childhood education. The majority of the responses were negative,

but there were a few positive responses. Common negative responses included having

alternative motives, homosexual, pedophile, or not male enough. As well, multiple

responses revolved around the idea that if a male was capable enough to change a diaper,

he could teach in Early Childhood Education. “Some female colleagues have assumed

that I would not want to diaper children or would not want to work with babies, just

20
because I was a male.” A respondent replied that others assume, “I'm gay or suspect.

That I'm not quite masculine enough. Even though I'm six foot tall, surf, play sport and

am married with four kids.” A positive response was, “I've been lucky in that I haven't

faced anything but positive biases in my work. If anything, I'm beginning to feel like it's

just one more benefit I get simply for being male. People frequently say, ‘It's so good

they have a male presence in the room.’”

Lastly, the male educators were asked how they benefit children differently than

females. A common response was that males provide a different perspective than

females. One respondent answered, “We have a different level of communication along

with a different approach to working with children. We may be filling a void where there

is no positive male role model.” One informant said, “Different approaches, different

perspectives, true diversity.” The respondents were given an opportunity to make any

additional comments and about half of the informants left a response. Many of the male

educators reported they were happy that this study and research of males in early

childhood education was taking place. One respondent said, “Debate, discussion on these

issues is what is necessary to professionalize us all and identify fears involved with

difference and our own bias.” Another informant replied, “This is an issue of diversity

and of improving the lives of children and families.

DISCUSSION

Overall, male educators indicated that their role in the lives of young children was

important because they provided a new, diverse, and positive role model. The sample,

however, may not be representative of males in Early Childhood Education. The average

21
age of the respondents was 48.39 years. The assumption is that this profession is

dominated by younger males because males would leave the field of education for better

paying jobs. Older males may have been more apt to complete the survey for varied

reasons including access to technology, aid for recruitment, justifying choice to teach, or

possibly more free time.

The data here suggests a lack of male educators in our schools. Children need to

be mentored by both females and males. Theoretically, males are not studied nearly as

often as females are. Men are pressured to be the breadwinners in their family and the

salary for an early childhood educator is not generally sufficient to support an entire

family. This causes a strain and conflict relationship for the male. Gender roles are

developed through socialization. Males in this profession are viewed as deviating from

the socially prescribed male gender role.

In female dominated professions, there is an exclusion of men. Discrimination

takes place against men in female-centered workplaces. For example, this is seen when

men are not viewed as being capable or allowed to change a child’s diaper. Men,

therefore, change their behavior to meet the norms and preconceived notions of society.

When males choose a primarily female profession, they are often questioned about their

role in society. Thus, the males face obstacles throughout their lives since gender is

socially constructed.

Educating society about accepting males for their career choices is a long process.

Many people today still find it unique to have men working in the early childhood

education field, but that is understandable because men are the minority workers in a

profession that is clearly and statistically still dominated by women. Males are needed

22
and should be valued just as much as their female counterparts. Young children learn

from having positive, stable adults in their lives regardless of gender. Individuals in

American Society need to recognize that males can be nurturing and positive role models

just like female teachers.

Cooney (2001: 82) sums up the current state of the profession of early childhood

education:

Our society is beginning to recognize both the inevitability and the

value of racial and cultural diversity. But another dimension of

diversity is valuing the interests and talents of both sexes, of

recognizing the contributions that both women and men can make to

children and to one another in their work with children.

Most importantly, we need to recognize that children come first. Each individual should

choose to join the field of early childhood education for altruistic reasons and in general

loves working with young children.

REFERENCES

Barnard, C. 2000. “Recommendations for improving the recruitment of male early

childhood education professionals: the female viewpoint.” MI: Grand Valley

State University. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED440759)

Clyde, M. 1994. “Men in early childhood: what do women think about it?” AU:

University of Melbourne. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.

ED370711)

23
Cohen, Theodore F. 2001. Men and Masculinity: A Text Reader. United States:

Wadsworth Thomson Learning.

Cooney, M.H., & Bittner, M.T. 2001. “Men in early childhood education: Their

emergent issues.” Early Childhood Education Journal, 29(2), 77-82.

Farquhar, S. 1997. “Are male teachers really necessary?” Auckland, NZ: Massey

University. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED417821)

Jackman, H.L. (2005). Early education curriculum: A child’s connection to the world

(3rd ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning.

Kimmel, Michael S. 2006. Manhood in America: A Cultural History. 2nd ed. New

York: Oxford University Press.

Kimmel, Michael S. 1997. “Introduction: The Power of Gender and the Gender of

Power.” Pp. 1-6 in The Material Culture of Gender The Gender of Material

Culture, edited by Katherine Martinez and Kenneth L. Ames. Hanover:

University Press of New England.

Kimmel, Michael S. and Michael A. Messner. 1992. Men’s Lives. 2nd ed. New York:

Macmillan.

24
Rodriguez, Edwin. 1997. “What does gender have to do with it?” (ERIC Document

Reproduction Service No. ED415979)

Santiago, A. 1999. “Male early childhood Montessori teachers: Why they chose to

teach.” (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED430684)

Williams, Christine L. 2001. “The Glass Escalator: Hidden Advantages for Men in the

“Female” Professions.” Pp. 211-224 in Men’s Lives, edited by Michael S.

Kimmel and Michael A. Messner. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

APPENDIX A

Survey for Male Early Childhood Educators

Demographics Background

1. Your Age ___________

2. Your racial/ethnic self-identity __________________________________________

3. Number of years of teaching experience_____________

4. Number of years of teaching young children, ages 0-8


____________________________

5. Your highest degree earned

a) BA/ BS

25
b) MA
c) Ed. Spec.
d) Doctorate
e) other, please specify ______________________________

6. Did you have formal training in Early Childhood Education?

a) Yes
b) No

7. Number of male teachers at your school ____________

8. Number of males teaching young children (Preschool-3rd grade)____________

9. Which of the following best describes your school’s location?

a) Urban
b) Suburban
c) Rural

10. In which state is your school is located? ___________________________________

11. Approximate wages for a year for an beginning teachers in your school

a. under 20,000
b. 20,000-25,000
c. 25,999-30,000
d. 30,000-35,000
e. Over 35,000

Questions

1. Do you believe the wages of Early Childhood Educators are adequate to recruit
men into the profession?

Yes No Unsure

2. Do you believe the long range salary projections will influence male’s decisions
regarding how long they intend to remain as an Early Childhood Educator?

Yes No Unsure

3. Do you believe male educators (teachers) tend to move into another occupational
field outside classroom teaching due to the potential for greater earnings (ex.
Administration)?

26
Yes No Unsure

4. Have you considered leaving teaching as a career in order to earn a larger salary?

Yes No Unsure

5. Was your decision to become an early childhood teacher influenced by having a


male elementary school teacher who you perceived as a role model?

Yes No Unsure

6. Was your decision to become an early childhood teacher influenced by your


experiences working with any other male elementary school teachers?

Yes No Unsure

7. Was your decision to become an early childhood teacher influenced by having a


family member or friend in the teaching profession?

Yes No Unsure
8. Was your decision to pursue a career in early childhood made more difficult due to an
awareness of the low numbers of men working in the field?

Yes No Unsure
9. Do you feel the parents of the children in your school are supportive and accepting of
males in the early childhood profession?

Yes No Unsure
10. Do you feel your local community as a whole is accepting of males in the early
childhood profession?

Yes No Unsure
11. Do you feel individuals in American society negatively perceive the motives of men
who choose a career in early childhood education?

Yes No Unsure
12. Do you ever feel isolated as early childhood teachers with so few men in the
profession?

Yes No Unsure

13. Do you feel that you cannot act in the same manner as female coworkers in situations
such as, being alone with children or displaying affection towards them?

Yes No Unsure

27
14. Do you think the potential for accusations of sexual abuse of children in a male
teacher’s classroom cause some males to avoid early childhood education?

Yes No Unsure

15. Do you feel school administrators attempt to dissuade males from teaching at the
early childhood level?

Yes No Unsure

16. Do you believe that if schools provided more opportunities for young men to work
with younger children more men would become early childhood teachers?

Yes No Unsure

17. Do you believe that providing men who enter the early childhood profession with
signing bonuses would increase the number of men teaching in early education?

Yes No Unsure

18. Do you believe that men be more likely to accept a position in early childhood if
they were assured the school was committed to hiring more than one man in this
program?

Yes No Unsure

19. Do male early childhood educators benefit children’s learning?

Yes No Unsure

20. Do you believe male teachers take higher pay or higher prestige positions from
female teachers?

Yes No Unsure
21. Do you believe early education is an intellectually stimulating occupation?

Yes No Unsure

22. Do you believe it is appropriate for males to teach very young children?

Yes No Unsure

OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS

28
23. Why did you decide to become a teacher?

24. Why did you decide to teach in early childhood education?

25. What, if any, are stereotypes/ bias have you faced as a male educator?

26. How do early childhood educators who are male benefit children’s learning in ways
that are different than female early educators?

27. Any additional comments?

29