Man drought in classrooms needs to end

Published: Monday 21st September 2015

Australia needs to break a decades-old drought of men in the classroom by encouraging more men to become teachers, according to leading educator Professor Tania Aspland.

New analysis by Australian Catholic University (ACU) of ABS Labour Force data has revealed that for more than 20 years as few as one in five Australian primary school teachers have been men. 

A closer examination of the country’s most populous states by ACU also showed that in 2014:
  • 16 per cent of NSW primary school teachers were men
  • 18 per cent of Victorian primary school teachers were men
  • 15 per cent of Queensland primary school teachers were men.       
Professor Aspland, who is the Executive Dean of Education and Arts at ACU, said correcting the gender imbalance among Australian primary school teachers was long overdue.

“It is widely recognised that male teachers can play a positive role in school communities,” Professor Aspland said.

“Studies by Australian researchers indicate that both boys and girls benefit with male teachers acting as strong role models and even father figures.

“Boys seek an adult to relate to and confide in especially as they approach puberty and girls gain an understanding of how to interact with men, which contributes to developing their self-image. These roles are critical as our children develop.

“The trouble is for too long too few young men have been choosing to become a teacher. 

Professor Aspland said encouraging more men into the profession would widen the candidate pool, giving school communities greater opportunities to find the best teachers.

“Australia needs to give our children the best start in life. That means giving them a chance to learn from the best male and female teachers,” Professor Aspland said. 

Professor Aspland urged governments, policy makers and school communities to consider a range of strategies for boosting male participation in teaching including education campaigns, scholarships and even targets.