Gender imbalances occur in many sectors, usually, the split weighs heavier on the male side but teaching is an exception. In 2010 just 1 in 4 teachers were men, by 2015 the ratio had dropped to 1 in 5, this number continues to fall.
Department for Education statistics shows 26% of teachers in England are men, accounting for 38% of secondary and 15% of primary school teachers. This gender gap in teaching plays a role in the gulf in achievement between the sexes. Figures show that girls are now much more likely to perform well at school. From Primary, where 27% of girls achieve Level 5 + in reading, writing, and maths, compared to 22% of boys, to higher education where young women are 35% more likely to go to university than young men. There is a lack of positive male role models in teaching and it is reinforcing the gender imbalance as boys don’t see teaching as a woman’s job.
Nathan Kemp teacher of the year 2012 said “Children are not only educated in school, this is also where they learn the vast majority of their social skills and begin to form opinions and beliefs. The gender imbalance only serves to further cement the belief that teachers are female which, in turn, allows this myth to continue.
It is believed that ideally teachers should reflect the make-up of the classroom and the UK’s diverse society yet men who make up 51.22 percent of the British population, remain poorly represented in the field.
Teacher Jack Green noted “The issue is not with the number of women in the job, it is the lack of males who are motivated to want to teach”.
This lack of positive male role models in teaching particularly in primary schools is reinforcing the gender imbalance as boys are conditioned from a young age to see teaching as “a woman’s job”. If teaching roles demonstrated equality to students at primary school age this could have a positive effect on the future many industries not just teaching. Dame Athene Donald, professor of experimental physics at the University of Cambridge agrees, “If we are to facilitate a gender-balanced workforce of engineers, mathematicians, and physicists in the future it is clear interventions at secondary school just aren’t going to be sufficient.” She added, “Parents, teachers and the media need to work much harder eradicating gender stereotypes in the way they talk about adults to children of all ages.”
Although girls tend to do better in school, studies have shown that many girls do not link high achievement in school to success and view brilliance as a male trait. It’s possible that this is a result of witnessing a limited number of males within teaching mostly occupying the higher roles such as head teachers and deputy heads.
Teaching is a high-pressure job that comes with long hours and daily obstacles. Male or female, teachers are becoming more and more difficult to recruit as the role is becoming a less desirable career choice. This will inevitably have a negative effect on any attempts to attract more males into the profession.
The government spends £700m a year on recruiting and training new teachers but has missed its own targets by an increasing margin every year since 2012. More than half of head teachers in schools with large proportions of disadvantaged pupils find attracting and keeping good teachers to be “a major problem”
In order to build a healthy society children and young people need access to an education system filled with committed, talented and knowledgeable individuals from a range of backgrounds. Teach First are continuing with their drive to dispel some of the myths about teaching and show what a challenging and rewarding career it is. By doing so they are hoping to encourage more men into a career in teaching.
“Our priority is getting the brightest and the best teachers into our classrooms, including male staff at all levels.”