by Ron Blatz - Manitoba, Canada

There were 20 Canadians (at least 8 Manitobans) who took the time and resources to show up for the historic gathering at the 2008 Working Forum on Men in ECE. The 140 delegates had a great time together and many friendships were born out of this gathering.

Discussions were rich, workshops incredibly insightful, and plenary sessions well received. Most of us will remember most the wonderful stories that were shared about our journeys into and in the field of ECE.All left sharing a renewed urgency to work to wards a more gender balanced workforce, for the sake of the children.

Here in Manitoba, we just received our second round of statistics regarding the number of men in ECE.

They are as follows:
April 2007             April 2008
ECE workforce total number                5525                    5685
Male workforce total number                217 (3.9%)            257 (4.5%)
Child Care Assistants (untrained)           172                      208
Early Childhood Educators (trained)         45                        49

The good news is that the Manitoba government has made increased male involvement in ECE a goal in their five-year plan. They have identified two excellent government representatives to work on this project (Margret Ferniuk & Cees Devries). We (the delegates from Winnipeg who attended the Working Forum in Hawaii) have secured a meeting with these representatives to begin the process of planning out a strategy.

On a personal front, we at Discovery Centre have just hired a few more male and female staff for the summer which at present puts our staff composition at 15 men 30 women.  If you become aware of any male hiring’s in your neighbourhoods let me know. I’d especially enjoy getting names and e-mail addresses so we could welcome our new brothers into our world of ECE, as well as congratulate the employers for their courage and insight into the needs of young children.