If you were to picture a kindergarten teacher, an image of a warm, nurturing woman tending to little ones probably comes to mind (with the possible exception of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1990 classic Kindergarten Cop). And I’d also bet the majority of the teachers and childhood educators at your primary school were also women.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2019, there were 288,294 full-time equivalent teaching staff across Australian primary and secondary schools, of which 71.7% were females and only 28.3% were males. What’s more, 50 years ago 58.7% of teachers were female and 41.3% were male. So it’s not just your school or your experience; only a small percentage of early childhood educators in Australia are men. Yet, there are many compelling reasons for this to change.
A common stereotype is that men (or rather masculinity) are unemotional or even aggressive; two characteristics that don’t paint the picture of someone suitable for working in early childhood education. But the only way to challenge this stereotype is to present a
To borrow a reference from pop culture once again, we need less Robin Williams’s in Dead Poet’s Society and more male Miss Honey’s from Matilda teaching the kindergarten curriculum.
They’re In Demand
In late 2023, the NSW Government released the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan in a bid to increase the number of people choosing to become teachers and ensure that existing teachers remain in the profession. There is a genuine shortage, and schools and educational institutions are on the lookout for male teachers to balance the scales. So if you’re a male considering a career in early childhood education and you’re concerned about your hireability, don’t be – there is a demand!
Be A Positive Male Role Model
Every child deserves to see both male and female figures in nurturing roles. For some children, especially those in single-parents households or who are dealing with family conflict, school might be the only place they regularly encounter positive male influences; and being a male childhood educator can serve as a positive role model.
This representation becomes a cornerstone of their development. Once young boys (and girls) see and internalise that it’s not just women who care, teach, or nurture, they start seeing the world with more possibilities for themselves, challenging and expanding beyond conventional gender roles.
Contribute To Gender Equality
For years, we’ve championed women entering male-dominated fields. But gender equality works both ways. Men entering early childhood education is a bold step towards breaking gender barriers, demonstrating that professions don’t (and shouldn’t) have a gender label.
When children see men and women working side by side in the same roles, they grow up with a broader, more inclusive understanding of gender capabilities. This outlook shapes a future where gender equality is the norm, not the exception. In today’s evolving world, breaking gender norms has become a pivotal conversation. As we encourage our daughters to pursue careers in STEM or leadership roles, shouldn’t we also encourage our sons to consider roles in nurturing and caregiving as well?
Provide Unique Perspectives And Insights
Both men and women have what it takes to shine as early childhood educators. But let’s face it, life tosses different experiences at men and women. These unique journeys can bring a fresh twist to teaching. When kids are surrounded by a mix of these insights, they get a richer, more rounded education, readying them for our beautifully diverse world. For example, men might approach problems or challenges faced in the classroom differently, offering alternative solutions that can be beneficial for both their fellow educators and the children.
Children, like adults, interact differently with different people. Some children might find it easier to communicate or relate to a male figure. By having both male and female educators, we ensure every child has someone they feel comfortable approaching.
The world of early childhood education awaits a revolution, one where men and women stand shoulder to shoulder in moulding the minds of our future. As women, we play a pivotal role in encouraging this shift. Whether it’s supporting a brother, friend, or partner in pursuing this profession or merely changing our perceptions, every small step counts.