Male teachers face extinction
The proportion of male teachers is dropping so rapidly that there will be none in 50 years’ time, a new study finds.
Australia's first longitudinal study of teacher numbers shows the number of male primary school and high school teachers is down by 10 per cent and 14 per cent respectively since 1977.
Researcher Kevin McGrath from Macquarie University said the fact that no government in Australia had a policy to encourage men to take up teaching was part of the problem.
“What is alarming is that this decline has continued and shows no sign of slowing down. That tells us that there's a national trend that actually needs to be addressed if anything is to change,” Dr McGrath said.
Government schools will have no male primary teachers by 2054, and there will be no males in the job at all by 2067 if the decline continues at the current rate, the study found.
Dr McGrath said there is a perception that teaching is a feminine profession.
“Men, and young men in particular, face social pressures to conform to particular masculine ideals,” he said.
“It's the personal trainer effect. There are a lot of men who graduate from high school who want to be a personal trainer and that makes a lot of sense because it fits within those masculine ideals.
“There's fewer and fewer who actually see teaching as a viable career path because they're seeing fewer and fewer men in teaching.”
Dr McGrath said policies should be put in place to encourage men to become teachers, as well as increasing the number of permanent teaching positions, and bringing teaching scholarships for men.
The expert said that studies repeatedly show having a male teacher makes no difference to a child's academic performance, but it can have some social benefits.
“Some students might prefer forming relationships with female teachers and some might prefer forming relationships with male teachers,” he said.
“For students that have risky home lives, say for example they've witnessed domestic violence, male teachers could actually be an important sort of reassurance.
“They can come to school and see men and women interacting in positive and non-violent ways, and also see men respond to female leadership, which reflects what happens in the real world.”