Do men matter? Educator perspectives on the role of men in the ECEC workforce

Year: 2016

Author: Sullivan, Victoria, Thorpe, Karen, McDonald, Paula

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Men remain a very small part of the early childhood education and care workforce. They comprise less than 3% of the Australian ECEC workforce. Does this matter? Do men provide a unique contribution to the ECEC workplace, to families and to the children who attend? While studies of fatherhood tell us men make a unique input into the developmental outcomes of young children less is known about the impact of men in ECEC settings.Drawing on analysis from data collected as part of the ARC funded Early Years Workforce Study, conducted in collaboration with C&K, Goodstart Early Learning and Queensland Department of Education and Training, this presentation examines educators’ perspectives on the contributions of male educators to the workplace and to children’s experiences in ECEC. The data are from interviews conducted with 99 educators in 16 centres sited in three Queensland locations: Mt Isa, Townsville and Brisbane. Key themes emerging are the positive role of male educators for families and children and positive impact of workplace dynamics. Yet an undercurrent of concern about risk and men in childcare as “not quite right” persists. Key issues for reflection are raised through the voices of educators.