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Males not signing up for teaching despite push by NSW Government

The NSW Department of Education is on a quest to get more men into teaching, but ongoing recruitment endeavours have failed to attract males to the female-dominated profession.

For the past four years, the Department has upped its push for more male teachers in support of expert opinion that says boys and girls would both benefit from more men in the classroom.

Recent marketing campaigns have included using men as the face of teaching recruitment drives at careers fairs and in social media ads.

“High school careers advisers are also encouraged to promote work experience placements in government schools to male students,” a department spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald

However, according to new data from the Department, the proportion of males employed in public schools dropped from 23 per cent in 2018 to 22 percent in 2022.

Last year a mere 210 boys graduating from Year 12 put teaching as their first preference, a 24 per cent decrease on the year before, according to data from the Universities Admissions Centre.

Independent researcher Kevin McGrath said the pandemic had contributed to the shortage of male teachers.

“Men benefit from a broad range of occupational choice in Australia which provides opportunities to avoid particular types of work and to seek out employment that provides more flexibility,” McGrath told the SMH.

There were several key reasons why they might not choose teaching. One was being ridiculed for choosing work traditionally dominated by females. Dr Vaughan Cruickshank, a University of Tasmania school of education lecturer also said salary, low professional status and concerns around physical contact put men off wanting to become teachers.

In 2022, men made up 18 per cent of primary school teachers and 40 per cent of secondary school teachers. The Federal Government last month released a $328 million ‘National Teacher Workforce Plan’ to address the sharp decline in teachers across the board.

The Plan includes developing a strategy to attract and retain First Nations teachers with a $14.1 million investment in the teaching of First Nations languages.

There are also initiatives to reduce teacher workloads, mentoring of early career teachers, and enhancing teachers’ access to quality professional development.

A $10 million national campaign is cited to “celebrate the great work teachers do every day and showcase all teachers’ contributions in a wide range of settings.”

There was no mention in the Plan of a gender-approach to attract more males.

The Government has projected a shortage of 4000 secondary school teachers by 2025.

Two years ago, Macquarie University academics Ken McGrath and Penny Van Bergen wrote a paper titled ‘Male teachers are an endangered species in Australia.’

They said that male teachers faced extinction in Australian primary schools by the year 2067 unless changes were made at policy level.

They reported a decline of 28.5% to 18.3% male teachers in primary schools from 1977 and in secondary schools it dropped from 53.9% to 40%.

“There may also be a social stigma in advocating for more male teachers when women still face adversity in many other fields. In this way, policymakers may assume that declining male representation in schools is not a problem, or of less importance compared to other professions,” they wrote.

McGrath and Van Bergen said teacher gender had little effect on student achievement, but that there were "important social and psychological reasons for Australian schools to include more male teachers".

“Students themselves tell us that they want to be taught by both women and men. Just as some boys and girls find it easier to relate to female teachers, others find it easier to relate to male teachers. A teaching workforce that is diverse – in gender, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation – is most likely to appeal to diverse groups of students.

“The decline in male representation in schools also limits opportunities for students to observe men outside their families who are caring, nurturing, and concerned about education. This may lead students to assume that only women are suited for such work, or that such traits are atypical in men. Finally, for students with risky home lives, male representation may be particularly important. 

Further Reading:

Male primary school teachers are an endangered species (AMHF)

Read: Improving boys education (AMHF)

Read: Young boys missing out on early education role models (AMHF)

Read: Male teachers are an endangered species (The Conversation)

Read: Why male teachers are disappearing from Australian schools (ABC News)

Push for more male teachers fails to increase numbers (WA Today)





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