Boosting gender equality in the early childhood sector

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  Published on Tuesday, 05 June 2018

Boosting gender equality in the early childhood sector

Library Home  >  Diversity and Inclusion
  Published on Tuesday, 05 June 2018

In an industry typically dominated by women, one early childhood provider is taking a proactive approach to redressing the balance by supporting and encouraging more men to enter the sector.

Big Fat Smile has 40 per cent more male educators than the Australian average, when compared with figures released by the ABS. According to Census data from 2016 female educators represent 95 per cent of the workforce across Australia, compared to 4.9 per cent of male educators. In addition, out of all Australians commencing their occupation as a child carer, the national average indicates only 5 per cent are male.

Big Fat Smile figures show that 7 per cent of staff are male, which means the organisation has 40 per cent more male staff than the national average.

Big Fat Smile's CEO Ms Jenni Hutchins says the organisation strives to provide an inclusive, diverse and balanced environment for children and says they are an early childhood provider of choice for males.

"A balanced teaching environment allows children to better reflect on the real gender mix in society, in which they must learn to navigate, and it's the children and their families that will reap the benefits. It's our vision to ensure quality care is available to all children and families, which is why we strongly encourage males to experience the rewarding career early childhood education provides," says Ms Hutchins.

The issue of gender equality in the early childhood sector is echoed worldwide, with a wealth of international research available. A recent observational study indicates there essentially isn't a difference between the care provided by males compared to females. Despite the misconceptions, male and female educators showed the same levels of attention, sensitivity, and stimulation toward boys and girls.

Director at Big Fat Smile's Woronora Community Preschool, Mr Matt Leslie, says he has been an educator for 10 years but still faces assumptions around his abilities to care for children.

"I used to let it affect me, but now I actually see it as an advantage. Children need to learn how to build relationships with both genders, and I believe I, being a male, provide the missing link between the early childhood teaching environment and the real world."

"Having worked in the industry for so long, I know there's no difference in the care I provide, compared to my female colleagues. I change nappies, devise and implement programs and, modesty aside, I have a very strong rapport with children."

"I've been encouraged to have a voice as I advocate for men in the industry, and the fact that I even have male colleagues, means we're on the right track," says Mr Leslie.


Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016 Census data

European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, Volume 25, 2017 - Issue 3, Men and women in childcare: a study of caregiver–child interactions (March 2017)

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 27 January 2020