Men In Early Years

It is time to encourage more men to start a career in Early Years!

Whilst women have been supported and encouraged in to predominantly male dominated careers not much attention has been focused on supporting and encouraging men to start careers in female dominated roles including Early Years. In fact, a study shows that only 3% of the early year’s workforce is made up of men.

At Hungry Caterpillar Day Nurseries, we work hard to break the stereotype and actively seek to recruit and encourage men into a careers in early years, recognising the many benefits male practitioners have on children’s growth and development.

Why does a career in early years not appeal to men?

There could be many reasons why there are less men working in Early Years. Are men choosing to stay away from teaching careers due to financial reasons? Is the stereotype of early years being women dominated career putting men off? Or are businesses simply not doing enough to attract men into the industry and therefore leading men to believe that early years is not a career for them?

What are some obstacles men can encounter when considering a career in Early Years?

There are many obstacles a man can encounter when wanting to start a career in early years whether that is when they are going through the application process or simply just considering it.

  • Social Rejection – Men who are considering a career in Early Years can often feel anxious about the social aspect and not making any friends due to working in a predominantly female environment.
  • Gender Stereotyping – Working in Early Years is stereotyped as being a ‘Women’s’ job and it has for many years. This may put men off, as it is not perceived as a job for a man.
  • Parent Reactions – Some parents have prejudiced attitudes towards male practitioners caring for their children and therefore male staff need to work in a forward thinking setting which breaks down those barriers with parents and support male staff with any challenges.

How can you attract more male candidates into your setting?

After reading earlyyearsleadership ( blog about lack of men in Early Years, they have given some amazing tips on attracting more men to apply for Early Years jobs.

Firstly, by highlighting positive stories and pictures of your male practitioners can really encourage other men to see that there are men that work in Early Years and are passionate about their role and making a difference to children’s outcomes? This can be done through blogs, social media posts, newsletters and videos and gives you the best chance to show perspective male candidates how well your gender diverse team work together.

Posting testimonials from both male staff and parents can show male applicants that your business is male inclusive and will help to reduce gender stereotyping from other parents.

Ensure that you have male practitioners representing your nursery and the sector at job fairs/careers events at colleges and universities. This will give them the opportunity to talk face-to-face with students/graduates about a career in early years as well as help to answer any questions potential applicants may have about this super rewarding career!

What benefits can male practitioners have on children’s growth and development?

There are many benefits to having men working in early years.Unfortunately, many children grow up without a positive male role model and therefore having a male practitioner in the nursery can allow children who have had negative experiences with men build positive relationships in a caring environment.

Some other benefits include:

  • Gender Balance – Males tend to promote a more active environment whereas females promote a nurturing environment.
  • Males and Females have different styles of caring and behaviours.
  • Enables children to experience a positive relationship between males and females.

What are campaigners in the industry saying on the matter?

David Wright is well known within the early year’s sector for his passionate promotion of ‘Men in Early Years’. David was kind enough to take time to share with us his prospective on this issue.

“Only about 3% of our current UK early year’s workforce is male.This figure has changed little in the last 2 decades. Despite the attention some of us have been able to bring to this issue, there has been no noticeable increase in the number of men taking employment in our sector.

Early years care and education is a gendered profession. As a society, our entrenched beliefs are that the care and education of children under school age is “women’s work”, that females are best suited to this role and that it is inappropriate for men to consider this area of employment. Thus, it is not unusual to hear of some parents expressing their concern or suspicion about the motives of any man wanting to work with other people’s youngest children. Sometimes this results in specific requests for male early years teachers to be excluded from nappy changes or for a child not to have a male assigned as a key person.

We know that these concerns are generally without substance and yet they are in danger of excluding fifty percent of the population from working in early years – at a time when we need all the talented people we can get!

The men I know who have made a success of their early years career are typically invited in by a woman, maybe a close relative or a friend who lets them into the well-kept secret of the joy, wonder and the privilege of making a difference in our youngest children’s lives.

Men are not coming because they don’t believe it’s a job for them and they are simply not asked. Job adverts pass them by, careers advisers never promote early years as an option to boys or men. In terms of equality, it is not a national priority in the same way that we promote roles in science, technology, engineering and maths to girls.

Our children benefit from representation of the widest spectrum of characteristics in those who care for and teach them. We need the best men and women who bring the best version of themselves. If we want more men, we have to invite them to join us, to give them opportunities to experience the fulfilment of changing children’s lives. We need to let them know they are wanted and valued. We need to create cultures where men are welcomed and supported and ultimately where it is normal for boys and girls to be cared for and taught in their early years, by a mixed gender workforce”.

Here at Hungry Caterpillars we have proven that Men can work in Early Years too! We currently have 3 fabulous male practitioners who do an amazing job. Below, you will see they have shared with us a few comments about their career in Early Years:

– What inspired you to work in Early Years?

“I have always been around children growing up as my parents were foster carers for 26 years. I have always felt passionate about helping others and find working with children extremely rewarding. It is also fulfilling to see them learn and give each child the best start in life.”

Antony, Early Years Practitioner, West Twyford Nursery

–  What benefits do you feel having male practitioners brings to children’s growth and development?

“It is clear that being a male in early years benefits the children by giving them a positive and good role model. This leads to children feeling more comfortable around all genders along with giving them a clearer view that all different kinds of people can do different jobs. I think nurseries with both men and women working directly with the children helps to give the nurseries more balance, improves interaction with the children and widens their communication. I also think that it helps to have men in early years as it allows for more of a balanced representation of role models for the children. It also lets parents and the community see and experience a positive view of both genders”.

Richard, Early Years Practitioner, Chalfont St Peter Nursery

 – What do you think could be done for more men to consider a career in Early Years?

“I believe that nurseries should make sure they are advertising more for male candidates. To allow more men to get involved. They should also have career open days for men along with asking male practitioners to attend careers events in colleges and schools to teach students that it is ok to be a male nursery practitioner.”

Chad, Early Years Practitioner, Acton Park Nursery

At Hungry Caterpillar Day Nurseries, we are inclusive of all genders and we have broken the stereotype of early years being a ‘women’s job’. As you can see from some of our male practitioners, Antony, Richard and Chad all love working in early years. Viewing it as a highly rewarding career which enables them to provide children with a positive male role model and that it can actually help balance the nursery team.

Starting a Career in Early Years

If you are reading this now and you are considering starting your career in early years but you are worried about the stereotype and obstacles you might face, please ignore them and go for it!

I hope this blog, will give men who are looking to work in early years the boost they need to apply for the job they want and to encourage other companies to follow in our footsteps and actively recruit men into the industry.

If you are interested in our vacancies, please click here: Careers

Further Reading:

Calls for more men to work in the early years
Early years leadership
Why should caring for and educating young children be women’s work?
David Wright talks about men working in early years
The lack of men in Early Years
Buy David Wright’s book here