‘Of Puppy Dog Tails, Sugar and Spice’: Gender Inequality and Discrimination in ECE

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Of Puppy Dog Tails – Article published in the journal Delta 49(2), pp. 405-416, 1997.

This paper reviews how equal the opportunities for men in early childhood teaching are.

Men are scarce in the profession. Early childhood teaching is a women’s occupation. Given that men are under-represented and that the profession is dominated by women, could it be that men experience discrimination? The findings reported in this paper suggest that they do. The subjective experiences and perspectives of male childcare and kindergarten teachers and their female colleagues tell a story of apathy towards encouraging male participation in teaching, sexist treatment, and discriminatory employment practices. 

So what suggestions arise from the findings?  To achieve a more equitable balance of male and female teachers in early childhood centres two major suggestions arise from the findings.

1. Specific projects to recruit men both into training programmes and into employment are needed, as are a set of guidelines for employers on the appointment of men and gender-equity in the work­place.

2. There needs to be recognition that the child abuse argument is being used to keep men out of teaching and to limit their involvement with children. Positive action for change should be taken by all groups and organisations associated with early childhood education (including the Ministry of Education and the teachers’ union NZEI).

A focus on increasing the involvement of men in caring for and educating young children is needed.

To read go to: Of Puppy Dog Tails, sugar and Spice: Gender Inequality & Discrimination

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