As a male Early Childhood Educator, I have encountered both stigma and acceptance for my employment in the early years sector. When I was deciding my career path in high school, I faced challenges by peers and derogatory comments regarding my professional career choice. I confronted them with perseverance and continued down my chosen career path despite these negative interactions. In comparison, my family was very supportive of my choice and were in my corner every step of the way. My main reason for wanting to become an educator was to be a positive male influence and role model for children. I wanted to ensure children had someone to look up to and could view me as a safe person to discuss issues with. I also wanted to encourage a healthy dynamic of male to female educators while supporting parents and the many different types of families in our community. Being a role model, dismantling gender stereotypes and demonstrating to children that they can work in any field is very important to me.
Why Are More Men Not In Early Childhood Education?
A lot of men are hesitant to become educators, caretakers, or seek employment in fields which have stereotypically been defined as traditional occupations for women. Too often men face prejudice in these occupations and encounter negative stereotypes. The salary base of educators can also be a deterrent for men to pursue a career in early childhood education since the field is severely undervalued, and educators often do not make wages substantial enough to support a family. While wage is important, hopefully it is not the deciding factor between doing something you love and supporting your family. It is important to consider the happiness you can find in your chosen employment field, while balancing your economic needs. Further advocacy in the early years for quality childcare and fair livable wages is vital to attract new educators into the field.
Benefits of Male Early Childhood Educators
Male educators are important because they bring different skillsets to the educator role, and they provide nurturing in a dynamic way. They tend to provide physically active environments that engage children in gross motor and risky play. Positive adult interactions are so important in early childhood development, so males should be part of early education experiences and be an example of a positive male role model. Female and male educators working in partnership also provide rich positive interactions that are observed by young children, modelling diverse roles and healthy relationships. In Sharon Ho’s “Gaining a Better Understanding of Men in Early Childhood Education,” (para. 5). Ho references Ron Blatz again who states, “Getting men involved in early childhood education is not an easy sell…it takes constant work and constant conversation” (para. 13). Ho also references Michael Agam, who states, “We’re not here to be completely different, but to show men and women working in harmony and to have that diversity in the room,” (para. 10). Ho suggests the following methods to encourage male involvement in early childhood education:
- Encouragement from high school guidance counsellors.
- Supporting men in female-dominated postsecondary classrooms.
- Making men feel welcome in the workplace (para. 11).
More than 900 members of the college have identified themselves as male, which represents about two percent of RECEs in Ontario (Ho, para. 4).
Ho, Sharon. “Gaining a Better Understanding of Men in Early Childhood Education” Welcome to the College of Early Childhood Educators. (n.d.). Retrieved on August 23 2022, from https://www.college-ece.ca/gaining-a-better-understanding-of-men-in-early-childhood-education/#:~:text=Blatz%20said%20that%20male%20involvement.