Good news for children and families – more men are being employed in early childhood services. But the bad news is continuing for the ECE sector as the percentage of male staff remains lower than it was pre the early 1990s.
In 1992 there were 154 men out of a total of 6,568 staff in licensed teacher-led early childhood services. In 2010 this increased to 349 men and the total number of staff (men and women) has also increased to 19,901.
The following chart shows changes in the number of male staff (blue bars) and the percentage overall (red line). The percentage of male staff across all teacher-led licensed ECE services in 2010 remains still at under 2%.
The high profile sex abuse cases in centres in the early 1990s, namely the Christchurch City Council Civic Childcare Centre abuse case and the Wellington Public Hospital centre case, was a key reason then for the big dip in male representation in early childcare teaching. That was a long time ago and since then we have seen a big shift in society toward men playing a greater role in the lives of young children as fathers and male caregivers.
So, do we have a problem of systematic sexism in the early childhood field?
Is the professionalisation of early ‘childcare’ as early childhood ‘teaching’ with higher qualification requirements and lengthening training times helping to maintain the virtual invisibility of men in the sector?