Usually my blog posts are full of advice for parents. This one however will be slightly different. It’s taken me a year but finally I will be having my first rant. I read an article on the BBC website that has really hit a nerve with me and I have decided to have a good old moan about it. The article in question can be found here. It speaks of the lack of men that work in early years childcare. As many of my readers know, I myself am a 25 year old male that works in a private nursery. I am based in a room with 2 and 3 year olds and can honestly say that it is the best job that I have ever had.
What angered me the most about this article is that a 23 year old male was told that he couldn’t work in an early years classroom because of his gender. The worst part about this story is that the nursery school allowed parents to complain and make an assumption that men cannot look after small children. If I was in charge of that nursery, I would be explaining to these individuals that if they don’t want their child to be looked after by a man then they should probably find another establishment for their child. The man from this incident was moved to a year 4 classroom, because of ‘what parents might think’. I’ve got news for the individuals who have a problem with male workers…not every man that has a passion for working with children is a pedophile. Believe it or not, there are men out there, including me, that have a real passion for guiding children on the right path. We aren’t out there to prey on your children, we are trying to provide skills and experiences that they may be missing out from in their home lives. So many children these days grow up without dads, and have no male role model to look up to. Having men in early years childcare means that children will have that interaction with a ‘father figure’.
What I want to know is…why do males avoid working in early years? 98% of early years educators are women. This is a shocking statistic and one that needs to be changed. Children need more male interaction! Here are some of the reasons that I believe men don’t consider this career path as an option:
For all you men reading this…imagine you’ve just bumped into an old friend that you haven’t seen in years, and they ask what you do for a living these days. Would you be embarrassed to tell them that actually you work in a nursery with small children? I believe the majority of guys would be embarrassed by this. But why? There’s no shame in embracing your sensitive and nurturing side. I’ve certainly never been afraid to admit my career path. I’ll happily admit that I can’t do any sort of manly DIY jobs without hurting myself or others. However I can potty train a toddler and successfully change a nappy. This is where my strengths lie, so why on earth would I do anything else just because that’s what society expects me to do?
- Gender stereotypes
A lot of men (and some women) believe that guys should have a manly job working with their hands and women should work with the children because they are more nurturing. It’s the 21st century, you can do whatever the hell you want as a career! Men can be nurturing, and women can be strong. Me and my girlfriend are a perfect example of breaking the gender stereotypes. I work in a nursery full of female staff and she works in a male prison with all the male guards. Your gender should not limit you to the career path you choose. Sometimes children crave a man who’s going to run around and play football with them, or crawl around the floor with them pretending to be a dog. There’s some things that men are just better at which children often miss out on.
Another stereotype that is often made about men working in childcare is that they are all gay. A lot of men would not want this assumption made of them when starting a new job. This is something that I had experience of when I first started my job in a nursery. By the time my interview had finished the majority of the nursery assumed that I was gay because of the job that I had come for. They quickly realised that actually I was a straight man with a girlfriend and at the time a baby on the way. The best way to deal with this situation is to take it with humour and light heartedness. It’s impossible not to make a judgement on somebody when you first meet them. Everybody does it.
So that’s why men aren’t working in childcare, but what about the selling points? Here’s some of the reasons why guys should seriously consider working in early years…
- The moment when a small child takes your hand and feels completely safe and at ease with you is such a rewarding experience.
- Working with women isn’t all that bad, they do look after you and will accept you as part of the team.
- You can become a selling point for the nursery. Seeing a guy in the room can be exciting for new parents.
- The kids will love you! It doesn’t matter what your interests are, the children will find you fascinating and will naturally latch onto you because you are different.
Rant over. I would encourage any respectful and caring man to give it a go! Yes you will be in the minority and yes all eyes are going to be on you but you soon get used to it. Use it to your advantage and use the opportunity to make a difference. I took the leap into nurseries and I’ve never looked back.