At London Early Years (LEYF), we have always been proud of our reputation for employing more male practitioners in our nurseries than is normally the case across the sector. We have also been a keen supporter of initiatives promoting the benefits of men in childcare, both in the UK and overseas. So we are particularly excited to be presenting our report “Men in childcare: Does it matter to children? What do they say?” at the first ever London Network for Men in Childcare this evening.

The reason for our research was simple: despite all that had been written about the benefits of of men working in Early Years, little had been done to look at the children’s perspective. We were also keen to examine how the Government’s recently published targets for raising the number of men working in childcare were being met (aiming for 20%, vs. the current level of only 2%).

During the course of our research*, we found that over half of nursery workers (51%) believe men are discouraged from pursuing a career working in childcare because of ‘society’s attitude’, whilst 60% feel men are not encouraged to join the profession by others, or are not comfortable working in a predominantly female environment (37.5%). Only 28.6% mentioned pay as a deterrent.

To build on these and other more detailed findings in our report, we are launching the London Network for Men in Childcare to support men who already work with children under five in settings across the capital, and encourage more men to join the profession.

LEYF CEO, June O’Sullivan said:

Research shows there are huge benefits from having men in nurseries, such as providing male role models, eradicating gender stereotypes and helping fathers engage with their children.

Today’s launch of the London Network for Men in Childcare is an important step towards a gender balanced workforce which is in the best interests of children and offers a hugely rewarding career for men in childcare.

Previous research (Ipsos Mori) found that the British public is broadly in favour of men working within the childcare profession, with 77% in favour and only 12% against, whilst the Major Provider Group Survey (2011) noted that almost all (97.8%) of female childcarers in day nurseries said they would value having male childcarers working alongside them as part of their team.

* The research project consulted with 56 members of LEYF staff across the eight nurseries employing male practitioners (including two male managers, and nine men in total).Go to website to download the Report