Men play a critical part in improving education systems when they become teachers. In a profession where women are the majority, male teachers diversify the education workforce and make a significant impact as role models for children.

The teaching profession is expected to grow 4% or more in the next decade at all teaching levels. As such, there are many opportunities for men in education. However, recent data shows that while there is ample opportunity for male teachers, there’s still a shortage in supply.

Gender Diversity in Education

Although the importance of men in education has been recognized, little has changed over the past two decades. Women held about 76% of all teaching positions in public schools in 2017-2018, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). At the elementary school level, male teachers accounted for only 11% of all teachers.

The NCES data also shows the number of male teachers dropped at both the elementary and secondary education levels between the 1999-2000 school year and 2017-2018.

Polly Manske, Assistant Professor in the Marian University Department of Education and Director of Competency Based Education, said that trend is ready to change in the coming years.

“More and more men are finding that a career in teaching is an opportunity to make a difference, not only in the immediate future of their students but also long-term,” said Manske. “Serving as a role model, exemplifying active listening and empathy, and supporting the development of both critical thinking and effective communication are all key life-long impacts that a teacher can have on his students.”

The Importance of Men in Education

Sometimes, the mere presence of men in the classroom can help students. According to studies cited by the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE), having male and female teachers contributes to children’s gender knowledge. Having men in the classroom is particularly important as they allow students “to observe men who are non-violent and whose interactions with women are positive.”

Other advantages of male teachers in the classroom, according to the AARE, include the following.

Having both male and female teachers gives students the chance to learn from others they perceive as similar. This can foster a sense of belonging and reduce instances of disruptive behavior.
Some students will see teachers as role models to better understand how to interact with adults who are different from themselves positively.
A diverse workforce “can enhance decision-making processes and drive positive outcomes,” according to AARE, because people from different backgrounds see challenges in different ways. A diverse workforce also can improve job satisfaction.
AARE also writes that the “presence of male teachers may help promote alternative, non-violent, and gender-equitable versions of masculinity,” adding that men who work as teachers “can help to break down the polarized differences that foster gender inequalities.”

The research suggests that both male and female teachers contribute to a well-rounded education and a child’s social-emotional development. A number of factors contribute to the dearth of male teachers, especially at the grade-school level. “A big one,” says Ethan Zagore in a USA Today article, “is that many people just fundamentally — consciously or subconsciously — believe the role of an elementary teacher is better suited for women.”

Marian University Degree Programs for Teachers

Marian University offers undergraduate and graduate education degrees suited for both career-switchers and those launching a first career.

These programs include a Bachelor of Science in Elementary-Middle Education and a Bachelor of Science in Middle-Secondary Education. The university also offers an online Master of Arts in Education – Teacher Education and an online Master of Arts in Education – Special Education.

Marian University accepts master’s applicants with any bachelor’s degree.  Men with math and science bachelor degrees are especially in demand to teach and thrive at Marian. Students learn how to become teachers through intensive classroom experiences in their hometown.

While the job is an attractive career choice for men, getting more of them to become teachers may require a change in how society and culture depict educators. Writing in EdSource, California teacher Josh Brown said he uses sports to connect with his male students. But he noted that male teachers need a more positive depiction in society.

“If we want to persuade more men to become educators,” he wrote, “our society should celebrate and respect male teachers in the same way we idolize sports figures and celebrities.”

Men who want to start changing the teaching profession can earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education. Becoming a male teacher not only provides them with a rewarding career path, but it also contributes to improvements for schools and students.