An ongoing issue that is widely publicised is the lack of Male Educators across the Early childhood industry. Despite this being a popular topic throughout the years we have seen very limited increase in the number of Male Educators with them still only making up just less than 3% of the workforce. Recent research conducted by Lancaster University identifies that less than 15% of early years settings have pursued specific strategies aimed at recruiting men.
So, what are the benefits of attracting men to work at your Early Childhood setting?
- Male and female brains process information differently; having a better gender balance will provide different perspectives in dealing with situations with the children (Rolfe, 2006).
- Children are offered a positive male role model.
- Children can observe and experience positive relationships between women and men.
- Women and men often have different caring styles and behaviours, this will offer different styles of caring, playing and instructing to the children (Rolfe, 2006).
- In the situation of single parent families, fathers may relate to male Educators allowing a more open connection.
- Having a male Educators can challenge the stereotype in relation to toys and activities (Rolfe, 2006).
Do you have a recruitment strategy to gender-diversify your workforce?
Based on the recommendations of the researchers, there are some strategies you can take into consideration to support your recruitment and retention of Male Educators:
Look at your current situation
How are male role models currently portrayed in your learning environment? What evidence is there of fathers and male educators positively engaging in the lives of children? Is it a welcoming space for males?
Educate Your Staff
To support the reduction of gender stereotyping within early years teams, look to offer out gender awareness training to all your current staff. The research shows that this is offered to less than a fifth of practitioners.
Support for Male Educators
It is important that your male educators feel supported and protected. Males can sometimes be placed in awkward positions that might put them at more risk than females. Have in place clear policies to protect children first as well as workers. For example, when children are having nappies changed ensure its where educators can be seen and that no educator is left alone to work with a child.
Reach out to Fathers
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic more fathers have had an opportunity to spend time at home with their children. Now is the time to target fathers who may be open to considering a career in early years.
Advertise your roles with Men in mind
Consider wording and promoting your live adverts in a way that will engage males, to make it more appealing to them. Make clear in your adverts that men are more than welcome to apply. Also ensure you have positive male imagery in centre marketing and published material! This will support the mindset of potential applicants that they have a place at your organisation.
Involvement in the local community
Actively reach out to local schools, career fairs and colleges/institutes to speak with young men about how rewarding a career in childcare can be. Have positive stories and testimonials available from males who currently work at your service.
The time to act is now with such a strong opportunity to attract more Males into the industry. With “traditional” jobs being at a higher risk career changes are very likely! “We need to capitalise on the shift that we have seen in many homes during the pandemic, with men adopting more prominent, care-giving roles. This could open up a window of opportunity – but men need to know that early years education is an option open to them.” Professor Jo Warin (Principal Investigator: Lancaster University, 2020).
Please reach out if you have any questions or suggestions that can further support.