Where are the men in Jamaica’s early childhood classrooms? The experiences of those who choose to teach young children

Full reference
Kinkead-Clark, Z. (2018). Where are the men in Jamaica’s early childhood classrooms? The experiences of those who choose to teach young children. NZ International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 21(1), 35 - 46. Retrieved from https://www.childforum.com/research/2018-nz-international-early-childhood-education-journal/1563-young-children-men-teachers-jamaica.html

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Original Research Paper
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Where are the men in Jamaica’s early childhood classrooms? The experiences of those who choose to teach young children

Zoyah Kinkead-Clark
University of the West Indies, Jamaica

 

Abstract

With less than three percent of Jamaican teachers at the early childhood level being male, this study sought to understand some of the issues affecting men in the sector and to elicit the factors they believe prevent/ deter other men from joining them in the profession. Twenty-three males in the early childhood field participated in a focus group discussion. Using Denzin’s (2001) Interpretive Interactionist Framework to analyse the data for this qualitative study, three themes emerged from the findings: stigma, macho culture/ culture shift, and financial matters. These findings have implications for how men believe they are perceived in early childhood education. Men in the early childhood sector encounter significant challenges and they should be supported as they struggle to situate themselves and fight for acceptance and to be part of the sector.

Key words: Male teachers, men in childcare, gender, stereotype, Jamaica.

Introduction

Globally, the appeal to increase the number of males in pre-primary and lower grade primary classrooms (grades 1 -3) has by and large fallen on deaf ears and it is clear that there are ‘glass doors’ impeding male entry into teaching and retention (Koch & Farquhar, 2015).  Some countries are doing better than others in bringing more men into the predominately female workforce. In 35 OECD countries 93% or more of pre-primary teachers are women (OECD, 2017). Some exceptions are the Netherlands (13% male teachers), Norway (9%), France (8%), and Spain (7%).  New Zealand is in the bottom half of the OECD with just 2% male teachers (ibid). In Jamaica, of the 8000 teachers and practitioners in the early childhood (EC) sector, only 200 are male (2.5%).  

Varying factors account for the traditional feminised demographic of early childhood sector worldwide (Jones, 2009; Kinkead-Clark, 2015; Nelson, Carlson, & West, 2006; Sumsion, 2005).  As suggested by Alexander, Cablk, Buckingham, Butler and Ballantyne (2006) one of the main reasons is that the sector is not seen as attractive for men to enter - and for those already in it there is very little incentive to remain.

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