For many years there have been UK, Europe-wide and global initiatives aimed at encouraging more girls and women into male-dominated STEM careers. Much less attention has been paid to the equally important goal of encouraging more boys and men into traditionally ‘feminine’ occupations, including early childcare and education.
Here at MITEY HQ we want to change that – and we think the Coronavirus crisis might help give us traction.
Many of us are grappling with big changes at this time: losing jobs, dealing with financial struggles, thinking about new ways to live and earn once it’s all over. Some of us – women and men – are discovering new strengths, skills and aspirations along the way.
Just like with climate change, where pressing the ‘pause’ button on our economies has immediately resulted in plummeting pollution levels, it takes a global pandemic for us to acknowledge the blindingly obvious about early years education.
The truth is that early years settings are chronically underfunded, and most of the nursery staff put at risk by the virus and quietly keeping the UK economy going, by looking after key-workers’ children, are poorly paid women, earning paltry sums compared to their primary sector colleagues.
The question is… are we happy for this work to remain underpaid, undervalued, and pretty much female-only? We say no – it’s time for change.
The early years sector has been overlooked for too long in this country, and Coronavirus has thrown that into sharp relief. If we want a secure future, we need the best quality early years education – and the best staff to provide it.
Our challenge to men
Our message to men is this: you CAN be the caregivers and educators, and the early years sector needs you. It may not pay the highest salaries, but if there’s one thing this crisis is teaching us, it’s that there’s more to life than money.
Maybe now’s the time for YOU to change career, stand up for diversity and gender equality, and take responsibility for looking after and educating the next generation! By doing so, you may even help transform the early years sector in the eyes of those who make the big decisions, since men entering a field has the tendency to push salaries up.
If you want to read about some ‘real-life’ men who have trodden the early years path before you, check out our case studies. Here’s our guide to early years career options and qualifications. And here’s a 30-minute video discussion with five male practitioners, filmed at our September 2019 conference.
Our challenge to employers
To early years employers we say: life is tough, and you’re doing the best you can in difficult circumstances. Men and boys are out there: if/when you have space for them, they want to work for you. Our resources are all here on this website, to help you diversify your workforce. Go to the main menu and use the ‘Early years employers’ dropdown to find out more.
Maybe there are ways we at MITEY could help as you emerge from the pandemic with a new vision? If you fancy a chat, just get in touch.
Our challenge to careers advisers
Careers advisers: we need YOU to get the message out to men and boys, that they absolutely have a place in early years education. Today we are launching the last of our Department for Education-funded guides, the MITEY Guide for Careers Advisers. You can download it for free below.
Please tell us what you think of MITEY so far, by completing our super-fast (1 minute) survey. The QR code is below.