by James Debono - MaltaNews

Male teachers are already a rarity in Maltese primary schools, statistics issued by the Ministry of Education show. Fifteen of Malta’s primary schools are entirely staffed by female teachers, with statistics showing that 650 of 790 primary school teachers are female.

The situation is more balanced in the secondary level were there are 785 male teachers and 1,167 female teachers. Statistics published by MaltaToday last month had also shown that 81% of prospective teachers following a Bachelor in Education course were women. This could be an indication that the decline in the number of male teachers is set to continue in the next years as more male teachers retire and female graduates take their place.

But Malta is no exception to international trends which are resulting in “the feminisation of the teaching profession,” Prof. Carmel Borg from the Department of Education Studies explained.

In 1995, at least nine OECD countries already had an overwhelmingly female presence – more than 70% – in their respective primary teaching communities.

This is even more the case in patriarchal societies like Malta, where women are over-represented in the private sphere. “The teaching profession, more than, for example, nursing or social work, is perceived as ideal for female graduates who are expected, more than their male counterpats, to combine family and employment responsibilites,” Borg said. But Borg also warns that international trends and research indicate that the feminisation of a profession generally leads to perceived lower status, as well as to deterioration of salaries and conditions of work, relative to male-dominated or more gender-balanced professions. “The intensification of this trend will push more males away from and out of the teaching profession. The primary sector, generally perceived as less prestigeous than its secondary counterpart, will be the net loser in this regard.”

With women outnumbering men by a ratio of four to one among aspirant teachers, the male teacher is at risk of becoming a dying breed.

At the University of Malta’s 11 faculties, only 265 of 1,418 students currently attending the Faculty of Education are men. Malta Union of Teachers president John Bencini contends that women are more attracted to the profession because of holidays and working hours which match the time spent by their children at school. This makes it easier for women teachers to reconcile work with family responsibilities.

On the other hand, men are increasingly losing interest in the teaching profession because it is not as financially rewarding as other professions. But it is not just in education or in the humanities – areas of studies which have traditionally attracted men – that males are being outnumbered by females. Males are also outnumbered in faculties normally associated with traditional power elites like lawyers and doctors, where females now outnumber males with a ratio of three women for every two men.

Significantly, women also outnumber men in the Faculty of Economic, Management and Accountancy, where they number 54% of students.

Men manage to hold their ground in dentistry and in science (where they account for half the number of students), architecture (60%), and retain absolute dominance in engineering and computer science