According to an infographic made by BusyTeacher.org, male teachers make up less than 25% of teachers in the U.S. & U.K., with a staggeringly low 17% in Canada. What are we missing by having a female-dominated field, and how do we help make teaching in elementary schools a more viable option for men? We discuss some ideas below:
From K-12, most of the teachers a student will have will be female teachers. According to this infographic, only 2% of teachers for pre-K and kindergarten are male, a surprisingly low number. While girls definitely benefit from having female teachers, are the boys missing out by the lack of male teachers? Those over at Scholastic.com certainly think so: Among many other benefits of male teachers, the article interviews Tom White, a third-grade teacher in Washington. White is only one of five male teachers at his school. He has noticed that he tends to receive students that may be in need of a better male role model. In fact, he speculates that he gets the trouble-maker students more than the female teachers. For a while, boys have been underperforming girls in education. The United Nations recently did a study to determine why the male students underperform the girls based on four Asia-Pacific countries. Among the many findings, they list the lack of male teachers as a reason that boys seem to underachieve:
Studies by Dee (2005, 2006) found that the sex of the teacher has a large influence on a student’s test performance and engagement with academic material, as well as the teacher’s perception of students. “Simply put, girls have better educational outcomes when taught by women and boys are better off when taught by men” (Dee, 2006).
The article mentions how female teachers in those four countries tend to favor their female pupils over the males. One of our own here at Honors Grad U remembers her first male teacher was in the 4th grade. She also recalled how a high school English teacher would expect more from her female students than the male students, but that the male teachers had some of the biggest impacts on her education. “On my list of Most Influential Teachers, the top 5 has three male teachers and only one female,” she recalled. “Male teachers teach differently and, in my experience, have a great affect on female students as well as male students. Male teachers (especially the cute ones) motivated me more. I always did better work in classes with male teachers than with female teachers.” The UN study also suggests that perhaps the drop-out rates for male students would decrease if male teachers were more prevalent in younger grade levels, especially in counseling or mentor roles: “One area in which male teachers may play a particularly significant role is as informal counsellors and mentors for male students. They may encourage boys to stay at school or guide them to alternative learning pathways.” (pg. 30) The infographic touches on one of the top reasons for men staying away from elementary teaching professions, namely the fear associated with possible accusations of abuse. Unfortunately, a social stigma in society is to be wary of males that spend a lot of time around young children. This is a sad consequence of the many forms of abuse that have happened as a result of pedophiles in all levels of schooling. Some ways we can avoid prematurely punishing men for stereotypes that generally do not apply to them include giving teachers more respect, increasing their salaries and being more open to the positive benefits of males in education. To join the conversation, share the article or leave a comment below.
Featured image: Howard County Library System