Will Norton and Kevin Hahn have become what they never had themselves: male elementary classroom teachers.
Both Cedar Rapids men are in a minority nationwide, where the percentage of male teachers overall is at a 40-year low. It has dropped from 32.5 percent in 1970 to an estimated 24.1 percent in 2007, the National Education Association says.
The trend is similar for Iowa.
About one in 10 elementary school teachers in Iowa is a man, the Iowa Department of Education says. The percentage has been dwindling slightly in recent years, from 10.34 percent in 2001-02 to 9.6 percent in 2006-07.
Lynn Nielsen, a University of Northern Iowa education professor who has conducted several studies on the subject, suggests many factors may play a role in the profession’s gender imbalance. They include societal definitions of masculinity, an underlying fear of having men work with young children and pay.
In grade school, ”my only male teacher was the principal who was filling in as the PE teacher until somebody else came along,” said Hahn, 32, a fifth-grade teacher at Francis Marion Intermediate School in Marion.
A 1997 report by Jim Allan of Loras College in Dubuque examined why men have persistently chosen other occupations for so many years.
”Men elementary teachers, in forming alliances either with male principals or female colleagues, present an implicit challenge to institutionalized relationships between men and women,” Allan said.