DERRICK Z. JACKSON’S column on male teachers casts a light on the frequently overlooked issue of gender inequity among those who teach young children . This imbalance is even more glaring in the early care and education field, with women constituting 97 percent of teachers of children under 5.
As a woman who has worked in that field for 29 years in various practitioner, policy, and advocacy roles, I am painfully aware of both the importance of men to children, families, and programs, and of the many barriers to the recruitment and retention of men in the profession.
Conferences such as the recent one organized by the Schott Fellowship in Early Care and Education and mentioned in the piece are an important strategy for improving awareness of the complex issues and for opening the doors to structural and attitudinal changes that need to occur before men are able to more fully share nurturing and educational roles to the benefit of us all.
As one of the Schott Fellows aptly pointed out at the conference: “If a woman can drive a tank in Baghdad, why can’t a man change a diaper in Boston?”