would you hire a ‘manny’?
How comfortable are you leaving your kids alone in the care of a man?
It’s estimated that 3% of men work in pre-primary education worldwide
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
If he’s qualified, willing are you to hire him?
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.