Posted by: jamiealexander1 | January 24, 2013

Gender in Education

           Being apart of the MAT program here at CNU, I see many women in leadership roles. From Principals to lead teachers for a certain grade, to the head of the master’s program here at Christopher Newport University, women occupy many of the leadership roles. However, women have been seen in these positions for many years. This leads me to wonder if there is a gender bias against men in this field. Do men need to seem more compassionate and nurturing to get jobs in education, or is it easier to get jobs in education if you are male due to the small amount of males desiring this position?

          This led me to another thought. When I was taking a sociology class here at CNU, I had to do 30 hours of observation in a second grade classroom. For this lab, I was required to listen to various speakers present on their jobs. One main person that came to speak to the class was the principal of the school. One thing said in his speech to the class was that he pointed out the one male in the class. He said,” son, do you want to go into early childhood education? Well, it doesn’t really matter, if you can formulate a sentence you will get the job.” This made an impact in my mind. Would he get the job because he was most qualified, or because he was a male in a predominately female career field? Is this the rule or the exception?

          Many teachers agree that males get hired easier in the field of education. They get jobs quick and tend to move up faster, and are seen many times in higher positions especially in early elementary education. Licensed teachers that I work with are finding it difficult to find jobs. They spend years applying before they get hired. Do the men have an easier labyrinth than the upcoming female teachers? Is there a secret path or trap door forming, or is it just the economy and the lack of teachers due to budget cuts no matter the gender of the applicant?


  1. I think that this is an interesting topis that you bring up. I would like to mention that in the field of education it is obvious that women play a larger role. The positions that people take on as teachers are mainly women and I think that the reasoning for this is becasue most people consider women to be nurturing and compassionate, especially towards children. Men on the other hand can be compassionate and nurturing too but is not the usual. I know that jobs are a crucial topic in the media today especially becasue of our economy and that jobs within the education system are very limited. I think becasue women are such a large portion of the education system that jobs are going to be provided to men more quickly than women becasue of the reasoning for diversity and the fact that men are so scarce in this particular field. Personally I think that it is wrong just to give someone a position becasue of thier sex or skin color. I think that someone should work hard for their position and earn it through past experiences and opportunites that they have applied their skills towards. If a women is better suited than a man for a certain position then they should recieve it and vice versa.

  2. This is a really interesting observation. One thing I have noticed in the schools where I’m from is that most elementary and middle schools are taught by females, but most high schools are taught by males. After reading your post, I really started contemplating the reasoning behind this. Maybe the reason for this is that females are thought to have the more nurturing personalities for dealing with younger children, but males are seen to have the more stern, authoritative personalities that would be needed to deal with older, high school students. Although I don’t think that men are incompetent for working with children, or that women are incompetent for working with teenagers, I think it is interesting that there seems to be a trend between the age of students and the primary sex of the teachers.

  3. I find this to be a really interesting observation with many possible explanations. One of the aspects I’m curious about is the drive for men to be in these positions. I’d be curious to know how many men are interested in pursuing early education in the first place and why they may or may not want to. This parallels strongly with me to the situation of nursing. Most nurses we see in our society are women while the doctors tend to be more towards the male side just as elementary school teachers are females and high school teachers or principals are more predominantly male. Is it because there is just not a great amount of desire among men for the jobs that are typically more often occupied by women? Or is it that they would like to pursue these positions but do not because of the way society has gendered these occupations?

  4. In my experience, men have an easier time getting jobs in higher education (high school, college) and a harder time getting jobs in elementary and younger. This may be because most men don’t want to have to deal with screaming children and changing diapers or it may be that women are perceived as better equipped to handle these situations since women typically have a higher tolerance for such things or at least stereotypically. But when it comes to the actual education of the children men seem to have no problems becoming teachers. Most of my teachers in high school and even in college have been male. I believe I’ve only had five female professors in college since freshman year including this year thats five professors out of thirty including a variety of classes. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you the reason for it with absolute knowledge. I do think there should be some sort of study on the matter, it may help with the larger picture of why women are classified the way they are.

  5. I agree with Maddie when she says that men are typically given a teaching job more easily than women because they are more scarce however, I think that no matter the sex, whoever is most competent should get the job. I think this should apply to all jobs. If equality is sought out in an accounting firm where the majority of men are more competent and you allow 50% of women to be accountants, some will be less competent. Why sacrifice competence for equality? That may sound like a harsh question but I feel like its more sexist to forego competence for equality.

  6. I have never thought about it this way! Thinking about this makes me extremely frustrated. I am not slated to be a teacher but always assumed I would apply somewhere as I got older. If men are given the opportunity to teach more readily than women, what do women truly have as their own? They have to struggle to be hired in a predominantly male culture and then face reverse sexual discrimination where they are predominant. Absolutely aggravating. I don’t think that the labyrinth exists for most men but I do think that the economy does have a big role in who is being hired now.

  7. This really peaked my interest because I am hoping to go into the MAT program to teach high school English. I find it a little depressing to think that there is a possibility of not even being hired although I spent thousands of dollars and 5 years in college for that exact purpose. I want there to be equality in the work force especially for education because it will impact me directly if there is not.
    An interesting phenomenon that I’ve noticed mainly in high school is the difference in gender between the different subjects. Typically the men dominate the sciences and maths whereas the women are often the fine arts and English teachers. Are sciences and maths considered more manly subjects or is it a matter that guys are have a greater tendency to be more wired for technical subjects such at physics or chemistry and women have a greater grasp on fine arts and english? I personally have no desire to take any more math or science classes. I am very much wired to understand and grasp English concepts and anything to do with music or theater. Is this a gender stereotype or a deeper wiring issue?

  8. That is an interesting question and dilemma that we face. It looks like men get job quicker in a female dominant job when it comes to certain careers such as teaching or nursing, but do women find it just as easy to get a job that is dominantly male? The answer to that is no. That is an interesting point to bring up about the differences men and women experience when applying for jobs.

  9. Really cool observation. My original comment to this was that perhaps the men were preferred to get the job over the women because of their gender, working for them in a positive, affirmative-action sort of way. Maybe the school wanted more diversity among their educators, so men are taken prior to women to fill sort of an unspoken quota? But then, when you reverse the situation, women certainly are not given equal preference when applying for positions in male-dominated fields. Who is doing the hiring in both cases? Are women hiring more male educators than female simply because they are male, and if so, aren’t they in a way contributing to their own demise? Imagine how harshly they’d be criticized though if they hired purely females.

  10. This is a very interesting topic. Going back to elementary school… I remember in the fourth grade we had a new teacher.. It caught everyone’s interest because the teacher was our schools first male academic teacher. Everyone was a little startled by his presence. . I remember one of my fellow classmates saying, “Why is he a teacher? He’s a man.” It was obvious that some teachers didn’t take him seriously. I remember overhearing my teacher discussing with other teachers about how he lets his class play outside too long. I think that the female teachers felt weird about having a male college. Maybe even a little threatened by his presence because of fear that men would start to take their jobs.

    Another though about male teachers… I think it’s interesting how unique it is to have a male teacher in an elementary school but how common it is to have a male in a highschool or even middleschool. Iv’e never heard of a male kinder garden teacher.. I think that women predominately control this field because of sexist views.

  11. I found this comment to be really interesting and eye opening for myself. I had no idea that men in education, especially early childhood education had an easier path in climbing up the ladder of job opportunity than women. My mind set, however ignorant it may seem, was that women far exceeded men in the number that were teaching early childhood education. Not only that but I thought that women would seem more befitting for the job as women generally have a motherly nature, and many teachers are mothers themselves and therefore have more patience, and understanding to deal with children at a young age. Not being an education major myself I simply had assumed my beliefs without actually understanding the situation. I thought it very interesting.

  12. It’s been really interesting reading all of the comments on this post that discuss the male to female ratio of teachers throughtout their educational career. In my experience, I’ve always been taught by more women than men, but the ratio has been very close. However, my father has been teaching art at the same middle school in Richmond for ~36 years. In fact, the art department at his school is primarily men. I don’t know whether or not this is an anomaly, but up until this point I did not realize that there was even an issue with this ratio in other schools. Another point to consider is this: of all of the middle and high school teachers that I’ve interacted with, the men always seem to want to be in a classroom that is more diverse, which can usually be found in bigger cities. In contrast, the women generally wanted a more amicable and congenial atmosphere in their classrooms, which I’ve always been told are found at smaller schools in the suburbs. Maybe the gender ratio is more based on the teachers’ preferences than the school’s preferences?

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