by Craig d’Arcy

Blokes can do it as well

(Please note some of the guys were near the end of “Mo-vember” – growing moustaches to raise funds for male prostrate cancer research – can’t wait to see what they come up with for “Man-uary”!)

Good Bye and Good Luck to Gary. Gary is about to embark on the trip of a life time, venturing overseas to have a working holiday next year. Congratulations on completing your teaching degree and we hope to hear about your adventures. We will catch up with you in Hawaii in May.

What did we talk about?

We discussed employment conditions and the possible changes that will occur with the Federal election result. As for anybody working in the early childhood field, we discussed the importance of knowing what your award conditions are. We discussed a few scenarios where worker’s rights were not being upheld. With shortages of child care staff, we talked about not accepting second best and to consider working where you would be treated professionally and respectfully. We also discussed how to do your homework and confirm what your employment conditions should be – the Department of Industrial Relations has been found to be a good starting point with plenty of advice and information such as relevant awards being online and a freecall number to discuss any interpretation of awards.

We talked about some of the best support we get as male workers is from our female colleagues and from parents- the people we see day in and day out and get to build excellent working relationships with. BUT the topic came up – what can we do if we aren’t accepted by our female colleagues? What if we are discriminated against because of our gender? Being a male in early childhood can confront us with some challenging situations and sometimes the most difficult situations are the ones where the stereotypes and assumptions from females in the field disempower us from being the most effective we can be. The statement was raised that these attitudes would not be acceptable if the children or parents were treated in the same way. For some men in early childhood, in some services today, the environment is hostile, uncomfortable and has contributed to men leaving altogether.

What can you do if this has been your experience? Don’t put up with it! It was suggested that the best thing to do is to leave that service, go to another that will accept you and then go on to be successful. There are many more services that are accepting and open to male involvement and have the best intentions to be supportive. There are now some services that are actively looking to recruit male staff, so seek them out.

We had a look at “Child Care Bridges” – a publication of the Manitoba Child Care Association – highlighting Canadian men in EC. The magazine covered topics such as gender development and inclusion, fathers in child care and nurturing boys. It was great to see this publication as an inspirational tool for our group. How the issues and ideas were covered are so similar to our experiences. For example, here is a quote from the article “Gender Balance: Who Needs It?” by Glen Arnold,

“As a profession, we are quite sensitive to gender issues and how they relate to children. We choose our language carefully to ensure that it’s gender neutral (firefighter, police officer) and encourage boys and girls to have a range of diverse experiences. However, there’s still one missing piece to this puzzle; it’s time to come together (male and females alike) and bring gender balance to Early Childhood Education!!!”

Thank you to Ron Blatz from Discovery Children’s Centre for sending the magazine.