New research to examine why more men are not employed in early years education

December 11, 2018, Lancaster University

Currently only around 2% of the UK's Early Years Education (EYE) workforce are male—a figure that has remained stubbornly resistant to change for several decades.

Now new research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, at Lancaster University aims to improve understanding of the obstacles that stand in the way of more men taking up employment in the EYE workforce.

Working with the Fatherhood Institute, the team, led by Dr. Jo Warin of the University's Educational Research Department, will learn about possible solutions that can help the UK diversify the gender of its workforce in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

The GenderEYE (Gender Diversification in Early Years Education) team will work with hubs of EYE professionals, located in four English locations, who are interested and active in advocating an increase of men in EYE and engaged in supportive Men in the Early Years regional networks and national conferences.

They will also work with academics and practitioners from Norway—which has the highest percentage of male EYE professionals in the world (around 10%) - and whose national 'gender equality action plan' calls for regional and national recruitment strategies to achieve a government target of 20% men in kindergartens.

Strategic focus will be on best practice recruitment, support and retention.

The Research team have just returned from a knowledge exchange event at Queen Maud University College, Trondheim, Norway's lead institution in preparing teachers for Early Childhood Education, and will cascade their learning to EYE colleagues, engaging eight different settings (pre-schools and primary school Reception classes) who will then form a sample of case studies.

The team will also administer a survey to the wider sector, seeking data on male recruitment and retention, and information.

"The study will provide a much needed evidence base for understanding what men's contribution is and could be" said Dr. Warin.

And Dr. Jeremy Davies, of the Fatherhood Institute, added: "There's a growing sense that the UK needs to rethink its approach on this: the lack of gender-diversity in our EYE workforce has been allowed to go unchecked for too long. We hope that by focusing on what's worked in Norway, we can develop some clear, achievable strategies for accelerating the pace of progress."

Early findings, based on the knowledge exchange event, indicate that a concerted effort at grassroots, local and regional levels supported by government interest, and target setting, as illustrated in Norway, can produce a slow but steady change in the direction of an improved gender-sensitivity amongst the EYE workforce.

Key messages from the event include:

  • Norway has a wide-ranging gender equality plan covering everything from parental leave and free childcare, to actions to reduce the gender pay gap and a target of 20% male participation in the workforce.
  • Earmarked has been provided to support male recruitment at regional and local level.
  • Strong leadership and belief in the benefits of a mixed-gender is important.
  • Support and networking opportunities for male practitioners can improve retention.

Explore further: Practical measures to help bridge gender gap in young adults

Related Stories

New research helps to de-gender the teaching profession

May 23, 2018

A new qualitative study, published in the journal Gender and Education and carried out by researchers at the Universities of Hertfordshire and Hildesheim, found that teacher gender has no effect on how male and female teachers ...

Women feel better when they work with other women

November 27, 2018

The #metoo movement has brought the widespread sexual harassment experienced by women in the workplace to the fore. Women in traditionally male jobs and workplaces are even more likely to experience gender discrimination ...

Recommended for you

Matter waves and quantum splinters

March 25, 2019

Physicists in the United States, Austria and Brazil have shown that shaking ultracold Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) can cause them to either divide into uniform segments or shatter into unpredictable splinters, depending ...

How tree diversity regulates invading forest pests

March 25, 2019

A national-scale study of U.S. forests found strong relationships between the diversity of native tree species and the number of nonnative pests that pose economic and ecological threats to the nation's forests.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

aksdad
not rated yet Dec 11, 2018
the team...will learn about possible solutions that can help the UK diversify the gender of its workforce in the most efficient and effective ways possible

Then perhaps work with the natural biological differences between men and women rather than against them. Nature has produced an efficient strategy for nurturing children from birth to, say, age 5 (the target range for Early Years Education). Women are particularly well-adapted to this. They lactate, their bodies are built for more opportunities to produce oxytocin (the "bonding hormone"), their brains are wired better for social interactions, to name a few; all important to the early development of children. Of course there are outliers; some women aren't particularly good at nurturing and some men are spectacularly talented that way; but it seems a poor use of resources to thwart what evolution has refined in the pursuit of a questionable goal. What's best for the children should matter most here.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.