would you hire a ‘manny’?

How com­fort­able are you leav­ing your kids alone in the care of a man?

Pick Me Up! - - ONE IN A MILLION! ON -

When you pic­ture a nanny, who comes to mind?

Whether it’s Dis­ney’s Mary Pop­pins or her mod­ern-day coun­ter­part, Jo ‘Su­per Nanny’ Frost, we bet the per­son you pic­tured was a woman.

It’s not just nan­nies who are mostly por­trayed as fe­male, ei­ther. Jobs in nurs­ery nurs­ing, child­mind­ing – in fact, any that in­volve car­ing for young chil­dren – tend to be seen as ‘women’s work’.

It even af­fects teach­ing, as Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion fig­ures from 2016 show. Ac­cord­ing to the DOE, just 15 per cent of pri­mary school teach­ers are male. Why is this? Could it be that we don’t like the idea of leav­ing our kids alone with a man?

Re­search by Di­rect Line Home In­sur­ance re­veals that 12 mil­lion UK par­ents – 36 per cent of those sur­veyed – would never con­sider hir­ing a man to care for their chil­dren.

Of those, 72 per cent ad­mit­ted the rea­son they wouldn’t hire a male nanny is that they would feel more com­fort­able with their chil­dren be­ing cared for by a woman.

And a whop­ping 41 per cent didn’t think child­care was a suit­able ca­reer for a man to even con­sider, show­ing that tra­di­tional gen­der stereo­types are still very much alive.

So is look­ing af­ter chil­dren re­ally not a job for men?

Kris­ten Hard­ing, a child­care ex­pert for Tinies babysit­ter and nanny agency, be­lieves the view is slowly chang­ing.

She said, ‘We’ve been lucky at Tinies – when­ever we have a male nanny, he tends to get hired very quickly. While there are still low num­bers of male nan­nies, we’ve seen the num­ber start to grow slowly.

‘We’ve also seen an in­crease in the num­ber of men look­ing for roles in nurs­eries – we’re ex­cited to see the shift, and are do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to sup­port this.’

Whether you’re hir­ing a child­min­der – male or fe­male – the most im­por­tant thing to con­sider is their qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Surely if a man’s train­ing is up to scratch, there’s no rea­son not to give him a job look­ing af­ter your kids?

But in the Di­rect Line sur­vey, par­ents and ex­pec­tant par­ents who were look­ing for child­care were given two iden­ti­cal CVS – one with a male ap­pli­cant’s name and photo, the other, fe­male. Only 28 per cent of par­ents of­fered the man an in­ter­view, com­pared with 48 per cent who wanted to in­ter­view the woman.

Also, the male can­di­date was asked for crim­i­nal back­ground check de­tails con­sid­er­ably more of­ten than his fe­male coun­ter­part. Could this mean fear of male ag­gres­sion or pae­dophilia may be be­hind the wari­ness?

Katie Lo­mas, Di­rect Line’s Home Di­rec­tor who con­ducted the re­search, said, ‘It is sur­pris­ing to see that, in our mod­ern so­ci­ety, we are still dis­crim­i­nat­ing based on gen­der.

‘Men are in­creas­ingly in­ter­ested in pur­su­ing child­care as a ca­reer and, as a so­ci­ety, we should be ac­cept­ing of the break­down in gen­der stereo­types, and em­brac­ing equal­ity.’

Some peo­ple say that there are dis­tinct ad­van­tages to hir­ing a male child­min­der.

For ex­am­ple, they could

It’s es­ti­mated that 3% of men work in pre-pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion world­wide

If he’s qual­i­fied, will­ing are you to hire him? Lon­don is the city (out of those can­vassed in a sur­vey) most likely to hire a ‘manny’

pro­vide a male role model for a child who doesn’t have a fa­ther at home.

Kris­ten has found this is the case at Tinies.

She said, ‘There are cer­tain clients who re­quest a male nanny. We of­ten find that sin­gle mums who are look­ing for child­care will ask about hir­ing a “manny”.’

But, of course, it’s not only par­ents’ at­ti­tudes to­wards male care­givers that are rel­e­vant to the dis­cus­sion.

Sig­nif­i­cantly fewer men than women may be drawn to pur­su­ing a ca­reer in child­care in the first place, pos­si­bly be­cause it’s not seen as a tra­di­tion­ally ‘manly’ role.

So what’s it like to be a man in what’s still widely re­garded as a woman’s pro­fes­sion?

Ben, a Tinies nanny from Brighton, said, ‘I have found that be­ing a male in the in­dus­try helps me.

‘More and more peo­ple seem to be open to male nan­nies now, and I think it’s great! I’ve had two dif­fer­ent long-term nanny jobs, and both clients said that me be­ing male was one of the main rea­sons I got the role – so I can’t say I have ever come across any sex­ism as yet.’ Kris­ten is also op­ti­mistic about a more wide­spread change of heart when it comes to the na­tion’s par­ents hir­ing male care­givers. She said, ‘In many cases, all it takes is the en­dorse­ment from some­one else about the ben­e­fits of hav­ing a “manny” to get peo­ple to con­sider the op­tion.’

So, in the fu­ture, are we likely to see just as many men as women work­ing as nan­nies and child­min­ders?

That re­mains to be seen. But, as in many other ar­eas, the break­down of gen­der stereo­types can only be a good thing for both sexes.

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