Where have all the male teachers gone?

by efuller3 on October 28, 2016 - 10:27am

We spend at least twelve years of our lives in a school setting in the presence of teachers. Almost everyone has a teacher who has influenced their lives and for many instilled a love of learning and a want to educate. Education is not gender biased and teaching is not specifically geared toward one gender. Schools however, are seeing less and less male teachers. Elementary and Middle Schools specifically are seeing fewer men, with less than twenty percent of teachers being male. Part of this can be due to the low salary and less prestige that teaching in American now holds. Though there have been advances in equality, many people still view men as the “breadwinner” of the family and as such, men are less likely to take a lower income. It is also noted that many men choose not to teach in elementary settings because society is less likely to accept a male teacher for young children. Males teachers are more likely to experience resistance by parents who are uncomfortable with men teaching their children and even bring about lawsuits connected to sexual misconduct. This can deter men teaching in lower grades. This can cause issues because as a nation we need to be encouraging the best candidates to teach our children. American educational standards have been lowering and in order to bring them up we need to find teachers who foster a love of learning in students whether the teacher be male or female. As a nation, teaching needs to once again be viewed with the respect that other professional careers are. Even though we pride ourselves on the steps we have taken as a society in the promotion of equality, viewing teaching as a “female” profession has been a very prevalent idea. This has led to less qualified candidates perusing the profession and people who could have been amazing teachers choosing a different path. 






Just a few more points. I chose the wrong link to add so my full post didn't get added but this is also important to the post.

This also has been detrimental because historically, women have been paid less for jobs than men. With less men entering the teaching career path, there has been a decrease of pay for teachers. This can be a vicious cycle that needs to be addressed separately but can also be helped by increasing men in the work force. Men don’t become teachers because of low pay but can actually help women get better pay while also increasing their own salary just by doing something they love and could end up being a rewarding lifelong career.

Your title was intriguing and your article made some interesting points about the role men play in our early stages of education. I agree from experience that there are fewer male teachers in elementary schools, and I never considered the reasons from a financial perspective or a legal perspective, but they make valid points that would further explain this phenomenon. From a gendered perspective, I would think that the celebrated hegemonic masculinity as a possible driving force discouraging men from wanting to pursue teaching careers. The term hegemonic masculinity refers to a specific type of masculinity that includes men showing characteristics of stoicism, strength, success, dominance, and many more. For men, many may feel pressured to conform to these characteristics known as the man box in order to prove their masculinity. Unfortunately, anyone who does not conform to the the man box is quickly reminded of their failure as a man through the use of language: girly, weak, gay, etc. These words contradict everything within the man box; therefore, it is further implicated that only one type of masculinity is accepted, and anyone who does not follow the man box is seen as less of a man. In relation to the post, I feel like this may be a reason why there are so many fewer male teachers pursuing careers in early education. The social construct of women being perceived as natural caregivers most likely explains why there are more female teachers than male teachers at the primary level. Similar to the man box, working in a female dominated profession and being associated with female characteristics, like caring and nurturing, contradicts the expected masculinity men are supposed to live up to. As a result, any man pursuing a teaching profession in early education may feel a constant burden that he has failed as a man. Therefore, to avoid any possible doubt about his masculinity he will avoid this career altogether. Consequently, until men reject the celebrated hegemonic masculinity and redefine what it means to be a man I don’t believe that primary schools will ever have an equal number of male and female teachers.
In addition to the gender disparity in early education, here is a link that discusses female teachers and their influence on female students: http://hechingerreport.org/teaching-profession-isnt-pink-enough/

In my opinion, there are three main reasons why there are less male teachers in an early education stage. The first reason is the low salary. Unfortunately, males are still seen as "bread winners" in our society. Therefore, they tend to not consider low paying job such as a primary school teacher. The second reason is the stereotype of teachers. Teaching often associates with the female because of gender expectation. Women are more nursing than men, therefore more suitable for teaching younger kids. The last reason is the fear of working atmosphere. Society views male teachers as potential dangers due to male sexuality. It is harsh for a male teacher to work in an environment where he is not trusted. However, all these three reasons are the products of the hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity refers to that men maintain dominant over women by showing qualities in the "men's box". For example, men have to show the power in order to perform their masculinity. In this case, a male teacher has little economic power due to the low payment. As the result, a male teacher is seen less "manly" compare to other jobs. Also, men have to show the toughness according to the "men's box". Anything related to female is a sign of weakness and pussy. Being a male teacher means doing traditional female's job and this is not what the hegemonic masculinity expects. Moreover, men have to be highly sexual to be a real man. When this idea becomes a social norm, people are more likely to link men and sexual assault. However, not every man is the "walking genital". Under the circumstance, men become the victims of the hegemonic masculinity as well. The hegemonic masculinity forces men to act in certain ways to disguise the true selves. Hence, I think the shortage of male teacher is a cultural product that is pushed by the hegemonic masculinity.

Here is a opinion of a male teacher and he makes some great points to this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLvQX2DWlJs

Supported by convincing facts, your article points out a very interesting trend that occurs in our educational system today. The way you discuss specifically on primary and secondary teachers brings out the attention of the stereotype that our society still holds: nurturing is a woman’s ideal role. It seems that even though we recognize women’s agency and ability, we still assign them the nurturing character that is supposed to be shared by both sexes. The outcome of this tendency is, as you mentioned, problematic as it also leads to the depreciation of teachers’ respect and salary.
You mentioned that one of reason of male teacher’s disappearance is the fear of their misbehavior from the parents. The bigger problem behind this concern is that we still live in a hegemonic masculinity that views women as moral puritans due to their emotionality and nurturing character as if we are back to 19th century. It is also ironic that when it comes to higher education, males seem to occupy a senior role more often than females. For example, less than one quarter of the Canadian university leaders are females. This reinforces further your point that men are still bound to the social role as bread-winner.

Here’s a link that discusses about the female academics in Canada:

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