Men in primary teaching: An endangered species?

Year: 1999

Author: Butcher, Jude, Lewis, Ed, Donnan, Peter

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The profession of teaching has traditionally been regarded as a suitable career for women and as less suitable for men. Since the end of the second world war the male primary school teacher has been variously regarded as morally suspect (Tubbs, 1946), out of place (Kaplan, 1947) or someone who should be actively dissuaded from making such a career choice (Levine, 1977). In more modern times some researchers have advocated that men should play a role in primary teaching in order to counter the "feminised" environment (Brophy & Good, 1973) or to help breakdown traditional gender stereotypes by acting as role models (Greenburg, 1977). Some reasons for males not opting for primary teaching have been suggested by Farquhar (1997). These include the current media spotlight on allegations of child sexual abuse; the impact of child protection policies; the labelling of men caregivers as homosexual or not "real men"; low wages; low social status and limited career paths when compared with other professions. Furthermore, there are often conflicts and tensions for men in undertaking what is generally perceived as women's work (Smith, 1999).

This paper presents the views of male senior secondary students, male primary teacher education students, male primary teachers and secondary school career advisers on reasons why males do or do not study primary teaching. It also examines factors which the students and teachers have reported to influence their staying in or withdrawing from the teaching profession. The implications of this findings for supporting male students in primary teacher education courses are discussed.