13 February 2013

Shaking Up The Stereotype With Male Nursery Workers

Traditionally, it’s always been women who’ve taken job roles in nurseries. Looking after children tends to appeal to their maternal instincts; nursery worker roles bring out their nurturing, caring side. However, all of that is changing. With recent male additions to the role, the stereotype of female nursery workers is about to be blown out of the water.

Shared Parenting responsibilities are now common
The majority of households now share the role of parenting pretty equally; there is a growing number of stay-at-home-dads whilst mothers go back to work and regain their career. With that in mind, many parents see no reason why there shouldn’t be more male nursery workers. Research from Ipsos MORI finds that the grand majority of the British public is in favour of men working within the childcare profession, with 77 per cent for and a mere 12 per cent against.

Providing a good role model
Not to mention the added benefit of role modelling. As far back as 1998, the Government was addressing the need for more male workers in nurseries. This is a statement issued in the Green Paper ‘Meeting the Childcare Challenge’: “Working with children is seen as a predominantly female occupation. Yet male carers have much to offer, including acting as positive role models for boys - especially from families where the father is absent.”

Bringing in male nursery workers gives young boys a male role model outside of their immediate family. This is incredibly important for all young children; without a role model, they are left unsure of their place in the world. With growing numbers of divorces nowadays, many single mothers choose to put their child into nursery in order to go out and earn the money necessary to provide for their child. In situations where there is no male in the household, a male nursery worker can provide the necessary male role model for their children.

Men offer a different perspective to the role of teacher; let’s not forget that nursery workers are responsible for teaching children as well as caring for them.   

Balanced perspectives
Young children require a healthy balance of male and female role models; although there are lots of househusbands nowadays, the majority of fathers still tend to be the breadwinner for the household - new Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures show that 10% of the parents who stay at home to look after their children are fathers.This means that fathers often have full-time jobs, whereas mothers stay at home or take part-time work. Being exposed to both male and female nursery workers allows young children to witness male-female relationships, and see how to react with each other, as they may not necessarily spend much time with both parents together whilst they are so young.

The idea of specific jobs for men and women is now deemed as rather archaic and old-fashioned. Let’s face it, if women can become successful fire officers and work in the army, then men can be wonderful nursery workers. After all, the knowledge they have to impart on youngsters is no less valuable than that of women.

About Today's Guest Writer:
This guest blog was provided by Shauna Willis who often writes about preschool teaching and nursery care.

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