Male Child Care: Why Men Avoid Child Care?

male child care worker

 One in three councils throughout the UK hire male child care workers in the sector. The female-dominated sector, of which 98% is female, has been encouraging more men to join the workforce in an effort to improve diversity.

But with such little uptake, what are the reasons as to why men don't pursue a career in childcare?

Male Child Care is Not Macho Enough

Diving into the realm of social gender stereotyping here, but the fact is, a lot of men don't see it as a “man's” job. Society has been conditioned to believe that men are the de-facto bread-winner, and women look after domestic affairs and the children. Thankfully this is changing, but not to a great extent.

But for men who want to look after children in a child care setting, a lot of people, and this includes friends and families, will begin to question their masculinity, and in some extreme cases, their sexuality.

This discouragement is actually preventing the sector from attracting decent members of staff.

"If you were a 16-year-old lad looking to come and work with young children you would be dissuaded by your parents, by career advisers and teachers. And then there's the whole sense around your masculinity, do you tell your friends that you are entering a workforce where you are in the minority?” said David Wright, Chairman of Paintpot Nurseries in Southampton, when he spoke with the BBC.

The thought of men singing nursery rhymes and playing with children may not be a “Macho” thing, but, in this day and age, we shouldn't be discouraging anyone from pursuing a career that they want to have.

Related Learning: Level 2 Certificate for the Children & Young People's Workforce (RQF)

The Fear of Being Accused

The other reason why men avoid child care is that of social stigmatism. June O'Sullivan, writing in LEYF, highlighted “the fear of being accused of abuse” as a major barrier to entry. She also mentioned the lack of promotion and discomfort of working in a highly female-dominated environment. 

The bias against male child care workers is a widespread phenomenon, especially from parents. There have been instances of parents requesting male child care workers to be removed from the nursery or to not look after their children.

Being falsely accused of something can hamper the career progression of any male child carer. Writing in Work in Progress, Lata Murti shared a story of how one of the male child care worker at her daughter's nursery was accused of sexual abuse by one of his co-workers. The accusation was reported only once, and it ended the career of both the male child care worker and the director who hired him. What's worse, the denial fell on deaf ears.

Related Learning: Level 3 Diploma for the Children & Young People's Workforce (RQF)

Why Should Men Work In Child Care?

Despite the two primary reasons above, why is there a push for men to work in child care? Well, having a balanced workforce will help to reduce the stigmatism against men, and it would paint them in a positive and nurturing manner.

Other reasons to have more men working in the child care sector include:

  • Male role models: Children who grow up in single-mother households will greatly benefit from having a male role model in a nursery environment. In a report entitled “Fathers and Their Impact on Children's Well-Being”, it stated that children who have an actively involved father figure will be "emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections."
  • Narrow Gender Attainment: The UK government believes the growing concern of academic achievement in boys is caused by the gender imbalance in the child care industry. Having more men in child care will give boys a chance to spend time with someone they can relate to. While equality is something that we should strive for, we can't deny the fact both boys and girls have different interests.
  • More Adventurous Activities: In an article by Early Years Careers, which shared the accounts of two male child carers, it highlighted that male child carers are more hands-on and like to get involved in adventurous activities.

Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on men entering working in the child care sector? Do you think the social stigmatism against men will eventually subside? Please let us know in the comments section below.