by Kathryn J. Owen - San Diego State University, 2012

Working with young children is perceived as women‘s work, and men are noticeably absent in most early childhood classrooms. The purpose of this non-experimental, mixed- methods study was to explore how men in the classroom add value to the field of Early Childhood Education (ECE). The researcher was interested in how men as caregivers and educators perceive their place in a workplace dominated by women, and how their presence enhances learning experiences for the children and families they serve. Qualitative and quantitative data collection methods were used to gather information about the beliefs of both men and women child development teachers at university-operated centers regarding their social interaction practices, and observations were conducted to study how these beliefs affected their interactions with the children in their care. Collected data was triangulated to uncover emerging themes and patterns as the researcher looked for subtle differences in the ways that men and women teachers interact with young children and facilitate their social emotional development. The hypothesized impact that men have in the social emotional development of young children when present in the classroom was not significant when compared to their women colleagues, who also practice quality care. However, unique to the results of this study as compared to previous research, was the ability of men caregivers to foster authentic and trusting relationships with very young children and their families in a diverse environment. It was concluded that they bring extra value into the classroom by providing a difference in learning experiences and modeling the act of caring. The benefit of this study to the Early Childhood community is increased awareness of the challenges and successes of men actively providing care and education in the field.

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