Male primary teachers: Disadvantaged or advantaged?

Year: 2004

Author: Smith, Janet

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Over the past decade, the lament that 'we need more male primary teachers' has flourished in media and populist discourse, within education systems and in government inquiries in both Australia and the rest of the Western world. In 2004 the Australian Federal Minister for Education proposed an amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act to provide scholarships for male primary teacher education students. Whilst this recent political debate and the preceding debates and discourses commonly assume that more male primary teachers will automatically benefit both boys in schools and society in general, many other important considerations are silenced and overlooked and attention is seldom paid to the experience of males who become primary school teachers.

This paper examines the experience of male primary school teachers and the prevailing societal discourses about them. These findings emanate from research that synthesises relevant literature, media discourse analysis, statistical analysis and life history interviews. This research has found that males who cross-over into women's work such as primary school teaching experience a complex combination of advantages and disadvantages as a result of their maleness. This study has identified eight categories of disadvantage and four categories of advantage that male primary teachers experience.