Callum Gardner is used to seeing raised eyebrows on the football field when he tells his teammates his profession. But as a male in a predominantly female-dominated industry, he is no stranger to this surprise.
Mr Gardener, who started his first teaching job at Wagga’s Lutheran Primary School this year, spent four years sitting in university lecture rooms filled predominantly with women.
“A lot of people are shocked when I tell them I do primary teaching, but I love it, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said.
For Mr Gardner, the ratio poses no problem, saying he was used to being the minority and that being a male teacher was something he was passionate about.
“It doesn’t feel that unusual to me now, because during my placements and at university it was always dominated by women, so it’s something I’m so used to now,” he said.
“I had an amazing male teacher when I was in primary school and he was a huge role model, so that really drives me to try and be a role model for other young children.”
Mr Gardner will be just one of two male teachers at the local primary school, which has 14 female teachers – a startling minority that is echoed in the state’s statistics.
In 2015, just 18.3 per cent of NSW primary school teachers at public schools were men, compared to 81.7 per cent of female teachers.
It is a number that, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ School’s Australia report, has been in decline for the last decade.
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Lutheran Primary School principal Peter Weier said it wasn’t that the school didn’t want employ male teachers, but there were hardly any that applied for teaching positions.
“When applications come in for teaching position, the very great majority are from females,” he said.
According to Mr Weier there were potential stigmas attached to male teachers and this could be a contributing factor to their small number within schools.
“It’s not a ‘blokey’ occupation, so I don’t think it’s immediately something a lot of men think about pursuing professionally,” he said.
“The lure of other jobs, such as engineering, architecture and IT, will be much stronger for men because those are more male-dominated areas.”
Mr Weier said it was important to encourage young men like Mr Gardner to embrace teaching in order to strengthen the male presence in schools.
“A bigger male presence will not only benefit young boys, but young girls as well,” he said. “They’ll be able to give children strong, stable role models.”
“Males bring something different to the educational table, just as females do, so it’s something that we want to encourage and see grow.”