TIME TO MAN Up

Bold plan to re­cruit more men into our schools & hos­pi­tals

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Front Page - NATASHA BITA

“BLOKE quo­tas” would be in­tro­duced to in­crease the num­ber of males in our class­rooms and hos­pi­tals un­der a push by Aus­tralia’s sex equal­ity watch­dog.

The Work­force Gen­der Equal­ity Agency wants af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion to bring more man­power to the “car­ing pro­fes­sions’’ and smash the stereo­type that brands teach­ing and nurs­ing as “women’s work’’.

MORE men will be re­cruited as teach­ers and nurses, as Aus­tralia’s sex equal­ity watch­dog pushes for “bloke quo­tas” in schools and hos­pi­tals.

The Work­force Gen­der Equal­ity Agency — the fed­eral gov­ern­ment body set up to pro­mote gen­der equal­ity and equal op­por­tu­nity at work — wants af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion to bring more man­power to the “car­ing pro­fes­sions’’.

Agency di­rec­tor Libby Lyons called for male re­cruit­ment tar­gets to smash the “in­dus­trial and oc­cu­pa­tional seg­re­ga­tion’’ which brands teach­ing and nurs­ing as “women’s work’’.

“Set a tar­get,’’ she told The Satur­day Tele­graph. “That’s how you get cul­tural change.’’

Ms Lyons, a for­mer teacher, said boys needed male role mod­els in schools, where four out of five pri­mary teach­ers and 58 per cent of high school teach­ers are women.

“Un­til we en­cour­age more men into teach­ing we’re not go­ing to see lit­tle boys feel more se­cure and thrive as we do lit­tle girls,’’ she said.

“There’s no di­ver­sity of thought or in­no­va­tion hap­pen­ing there in the class­room if we are solely re­ly­ing on fe­males, par­tic­u­larly in pri­mary school.’’

Ms Lyons called on schools and hos­pi­tals to mimic the min­ing and rail in­dus­tries, which set quo­tas to hire and pro­mote women — and even banned blokes from ap­ply­ing for some jobs — in an ef­fort to fem­i­nise the work­force.

She said chil­dren were “like sponges’’ in pri­mary school and picked up on “in­nu­endo and habits and cul­ture’’ from teach­ers. She did not want any of her fu­ture grand­chil­dren “be­ing taught in schools just by women’’.

“I’m a woman. I like things that fe­males like — but also let males project who and what they are as well,” she said.

Ms Lyons also wants more men in nurs­ing, given nine out of 10 nurses are women.

“We need to chal­lenge the norm that says men can­not care,’’ she said.

“Men can care — and do the job as well as women,’’ she said.

State Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Adrian Pic­coli said he would “like more male teach­ers in our class­rooms’’ but ruled out tar­gets.

Fed­eral Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Si­mon Birm­ing­ham said teach­ers were role mod­els.

“Ide­ally we would have both men and women pro­vid­ing out­stand­ing ex­am­ples to boys and girls in their schools,’’ he said.

There’sT no di­ver­sity of thought or in­no­va­tion hap­pen­ing there in the class­room if we are solely re­ly­ing on fe­males, par­tic­u­larly in pri­mary school Work­force Gen­der Equal­ity Agency di­rec­tor Libby Lyons

The con­cepts of gen­der quo­tas and af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion for mi­nori­ties first gained mo­men­tum in the 1980s, as ways to in­crease di­ver­sity in male-dom­i­nated pro­fes­sions. Com­bined with so­ci­etal shifts that have led to more women seek­ing em­ploy­ment in roles pre­vi­ously as­so­ci­ated with men, these con­cepts have worked ex­tremely well — in fact, per­haps too well.

The gen­der pen­du­lum has now swung so far that cer­tain em­ploy­ment fields, par­tic­u­larly in what are known as the “car­ing pro­fes­sions”, are now over­whelm­ingly dom­i­nated by women.

Teach­ing, es­pe­cially, is mov­ing to­wards be­ing a male-free zone.

So once again we’re talk­ing about gen­der quo­tas and af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion — but this time for blokes.

Work­force Gen­der Equal­ity Agency di­rec­tor Libby Lyons is lead­ing the charge, point­ing out that a bet­ter gen­der bal­ance in teach­ing is as much about di­ver­sity of thought and at­ti­tude as it is about a sim­ple mix of women and men.

“My son’s 21 and I don’t want any chil­dren he might have be­ing taught just by women,’’ Lyons told The Satur­day Tele­graph. “There’s no di­ver­sity of thought or in­nova- tion hap­pen­ing there in the class­room if we are solely re­ly­ing on fe­males, par­tic­u­larly in pri­mary school.”

Her­self a for­mer teacher, Lyons is acutely aware of how pro­found is the in­flu­ence of ed­u­ca­tors upon young chil­dren.

This in­flu­ence ex­tends be­yond in­struc­tion in English and maths.

“Chil­dren are like sponges and they learn so much in those pri­mary years,” Lyons ob­serves. “They also pick up on in­nu­endo and habits and the cul­tures we project.”

That’s why it was a good idea, decades ago, to in­crease the num­bers of women in teach­ing — and also why it is a good idea to now in­crease the num­ber of male teach­ers.

It’s all a ques­tion of bal­ance, aim­ing at a bet­ter out­come for all stu­dents. As Lyons puts it: “Un­til we en­cour­age more men into teach­ing, par­tic­u­larly pri­mary teach­ing, we’re not go­ing to see lit­tle boys feel more se­cure and thrive as we do lit­tle girls.’’

Ad­di­tion­ally, the Work­force Gen­der Equal­ity Agency is push­ing for more men to be­come in­volved in pro­fes­sions gen­er­ally thought of as pre­dom­i­nantly fe­male do­mains, such as nurs­ing and child­care.

Let’s knock down those gen­der bar­ri­ers, gen­tle­men. Equal­ity now!

Pic­ture: Justin Lloyd

Trainee teacher Domenic Badolato.

Trainee teacher Domenic Badolato with Peter, 6, Ge­or­gia, 6, and Madeleine, 6, at St Paul of the Cross Catholic Pri­mary School. Pic­ture: Justin Lloyd

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