I am a male Director of a long day care centre. It is being built at the moment and will be operating in 8 weeks. I’ll be looking to employ one or two male workers as part of a team of ten. In the Australian context, this will be fairly innovative to have a few male workers together. I’ve worked in early childhood services for 14 years, never working or studying with another male.
I started up the only Males in Early Childhood Network Group in Australia about two years ago. Part of what the group does is promote men as prospective employees in services. We also have a mentoring system with experienced male workers linked with less experienced guys. My approach is based on a strengths perspective, where we promote by only talking about the great things that a man can bring to a team. Of course there are barriers, they are well documented, but we have found by looking at the glass being half full is by far the most productive way to get men in to services. It takes away the ‘blame’ factor i.e. women are discriminatory towards men, or women like to keep a hold on the power in early childhood. That gets us nowhere.
Another part of our approach is to only work with people who are ready. If a service shows some interest in having a male worker, then we do everything we can to support them to make it happen. Working with people who are ready, rather then trying to convince the whole early childhood field at once, will help ensure that the guys who are employed will be successul and will be retained. Those services with men are then recognised as being providers of hiqh quality care and education, not because they have a male worker but because they are inclusive. Every service (or most) then want to be a part of that push.
Some important strategies for Directors to consider when employing a male –
* Develop policies for the service, highlighting the service’s belief that men are important.
* Male workers require their own male support mechanisms to stay in the job. He needs to talk and meet with other men regularly.
* Talk to the dads at the service about their perspectives on male workers. Research shows that father involvement increases with a male worker present.
* Research the postives that men bring to working with young children.