Men less likely to seek careers in ECEC and other fields due to gender bias, study finds
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Men less likely to seek careers in ECEC and other fields due to gender bias, study finds

Men less likely to seek careers in ECEC and other fields due to gender bias, study finds

by Freya Lucas

January 04, 2023

Men are less likely to pursue a career in early childhood education, along with some other fields traditionally associated with women, because of male gender bias, new US research published by the American Psychological Association (APA) has found.   


“It’s a detriment to society if we keep slotting people into gendered roles and stay the course on gender-segregated career paths, regardless of whether those jobs are traditionally associated with women or men,” lead researcher Associate Professor Corinne Moss-Racusin said. “That’s a powerful way of reinforcing the traditional gender status quo.”


The biases men experience in fields such as health care, early education and domestic (HEED) roles has been documented in prior research, with the new study seeking to gauge the impact of that bias. 


While female gender bias in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields has received much public attention, male gender bias in HEED careers has been largely ignored, even though it also has negative impacts, Associate Professor Moss-Racusin explained.


Men account for only 3 per cent of preschool and kindergarten teachers and 13 per cent of registered nurses in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In prior research, male nurses have reported higher levels of workplace bullying than female nurses. Male early-elementary teachers have reported higher rates of discrimination and are perceived as less likeable, less hirable and a greater safety threat to children than female teachers.


The gender bias experienced by men, the Associate Professor explained, is often rooted in traditional views of motherhood, and the stereotype that women are more caring and naturally suited for some care-oriented professions, which then limits opportunities for men in those fields, the Associate Professor added.


“There’s no evidence that men are biologically incapable of doing this work or that men and women are naturally oriented toward different careers,” she said. “Both men and women are deterred by gender biases they may face in different industries, which is understandable.”


Men also may be deterred by the low pay commonly found in HEED fields, which may be related to discrimination against women and a devaluing of work associated with them, researchers noted. 


Gender Equality Eliminates Gender Gaps in Engagement with Female-Stereotypic Domains was published in late December and may be accessed using the links provided. 

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