By Joan Runnheim Olson
Teaching continues to be a female-dominated career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 2 percent of pre-K and kindergarten teachers and 18 percent of elementary and middle-school teachers are men. In secondary school, however, 42 percent of teachers are men. Why are so few men in teaching, especially at the lower levels?
Reasons Males Don't Consider Teaching. According to a blog post in the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-brown/why-so-few-male-teachers-_b_87562.html) "research suggests three key reasons for the shortage of male teachers: low status and pay, the perception that teaching is "women's work," and the fear of accusation of child abuse." Many men who do become teachers drop out because "of worries that innocuous contact with students could be misconstrued, reports the NEA." Because of the gender stereotype that males are supposed to be the "breadwinner," males often don't consider teaching as a viable career option, due to relatively low salaries as compared to salaries for male-dominated careers. And, males who do choose the teaching profession are often promoted to administrative positions, and at a faster rate than their female counterparts. This phenomenon is known as the "glass escalator" effect.
Why are Male Teachers Important? Having divorced parents and/or being raised solely by their mother or other female figure, boys may lack a male role model in their life. Studies show that boys benefit from a male role model in the classroom. According to a recent article, "As Stanford University Professor Thomas Dee has documented, in a study of more than 20,000 middle-school students, boys perform better when they have a male teacher...."
Increase Recruitment Efforts. So what can be done to move more males into teaching? An increased effort in recruitment efforts can help. The number one recruitment technique to encourage boys to consider a nontraditional career is using role models. Males need to see someone that looks like them teaching. MenTeach (http://www.menteach.org/resources/financial_resources_for_teaching) is a program that offers scholarships to males who want to pursue a teaching career. Scholarships can provide an incentive to students and parents when considering career options. An innovative program designed to increase the number of male teachers is Troops to Teachers (http://www.proudtoserveagain.com/index.html). This program was developed by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Defense program and helps eligible military personnel begin a new career as teachers in public schools.