The importance of male role models within an early years setting

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It’s now widely accepted that men working in childcare have a great deal to offer. A survey in 2011 found that 98% of parents would be happy to have men caring for their children, compared to just 55% in 2005. Attitudes and perceptions about the importance of male role models in childcare are changing fast, but is this making any difference to male representation within the early years workforce? Toad Hall Nursery Group, who are committed to recruiting men within their nursery settings, looks at the current situation of men in childcare and why their role is so vital.

Men in childcare – the current picture

While there are major recruitment drives underway to encourage more men to consider a career in childcare, men currently represent less than 2% of the childcare workforce. But men are becoming more involved in hands-on parenting, with 30% of men taking on more active roles. Men may be more comfortable with their role as parents, but this isn’t yet being translated into opportunities for professional career development.

How to break down barriers for men in childcare

For men to be able to consider childcare as a career, gender stereotypes need to be addressed. Men need to be reassured that childcare is far from being ‘women’s work’ and is a credible and rewarding career. Men need to know that their contribution would be welcomed: 98% of female childcare workers would like to see more male colleagues in the sector. The benefits of working in childcare, including career progression, need to be clearly highlighted.

What can men offer to the childcare sector?

Children need male and female role models, particularly children who are growing up without a father figure. Men in childcare can encourage different approaches to learning and play and provide a positive balance for children. They can reduce gender stereotypes and change perceptions of the childcare industry. Best of all, men working in childcare can act as champions, paving the way for future male generations to opt for childcare as a career.

Toad Hall Nursery Practitioner, Dan, tells us why he loves working in the childcare sector:

What I do isn’t just a job…it’s an adventure. There’s such a sense of pride and achievement and there’s no other feeling like it. There’s nothing else I would rather do.” 

You can view Dan’s video here.

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