Pink Uniforms for men.

(54 Posts)
TiggyD Wed 21-Nov-12 10:15:31

There are very few men working in nurseries. About 2% of the early years workforce are male. The reasons men give for not going into the sector are the low status of the job, low pay, and the fact that it's seen as women's work.
My question is this. Is it right for nurseries to choose pink as the colour of their staff's uniform?
It's not really combating the image of being women's work, but then again pink is just a colour and it shouldn't be seen as "women's", but it is and it will put men off, but it shouldn't...
This isn't a stealth campaign or a stealth moan. I really can't decide what I should think. At the moment I'm coming down on the side of pink not being helpful in not putting men off and nurseries would be better off avoiding it, but what do you think?

TiggyD Wed 21-Nov-12 10:19:35

And yes, it's a question that would be better suited to a "men's rights" board but 1) Mumsnet doesn't have one and 2)there's no men's rights board that isn't filled with bitter drooling nutters having a rant and 3) it's partly about the colour pink=women issue.

namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 10:52:51

There are also sections of our society that sadly see something suspicious in men wanting to work with children. I would imagine that this is a huge barrier to men working in this sector.

As to the colour, there are plenty of pink shirts, t-shirts and polo shirts available in pink these days. Charles Tyrwhitt, Next, M&S etc all sell them. I wear a pink shirt to work.

BelaLugosisShed Wed 21-Nov-12 12:20:25

A local football team has a bright candyfloss pink kit, including socks, doesn't seem to bother the guys playing .
I can't imagine a pink polo shirt/overall would put off a man who wanted to work in a nursery tbh.
DH wears plenty of pink shirts and has a rugby top that's very pink.
I think you're seeing an issue that isn't there.

OneMoreChap Wed 21-Nov-12 12:29:42

See about pinkification. It's just a colour.

I too wear a pink shirt on occasions and have been known to wear a skirt, well 8 yards of fabric wrapped about me.

There is some entry into caring professions from men - as joblessness bites (more male domestic carers etc. - partly necessitated by the longer life of men, many of whom have quite rightly been left by women and so grow old alone) but there is a section of the population that is rabidly anti-men/padeo spotter.

20 odd years ago, I used to help provide childcare for an organisation, and no man was ever left alone with kids - we always had a woman there. If a mum turned up when I was on my own, I'd ask her to stay... or tell her she couldn't leave her child, until a female helper turned up.

namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 12:37:38

There was a discussion on here a while back in which a case was highlighted where an airline had asked a lone male passenger to swap seats on a plane because he was sat next to an unaccompanied child. There then ensued a lot of arguing about whether they were right to ask him to do so. Some people were all in favour of the airline's action, as they saw an inherent risk that the man might molest the child.

While this attitude prevails in our society, you will have little difficulty in convincing anyone that childcare is indeed, by default, woman's work - simply because men cannot be trusted. It is such a sad state of affairs.

CailinDana Wed 21-Nov-12 12:48:17

The question you have to ask wrt the pink/blue thing is why is it ok for women to wear a "male colour" but humiliating and silly for a man to wear a "female colour"? I mean, women wear blue uniforms all the time - practically the entire NHS is blue, as are a lot of supermarket and security guard uniforms.

The inherent implication is that a woman aspiring to look like a man is not even worthy of comment - why wouldn't a woman want to look like the "better" sex? The male uniform is the default, and a woman who wears it is emulating the norm. In contrast, a man who wears a "female" uniform is lowering himself, making himself look like a lesser being (ie a woman) and so that is humiliating. If a uniform is primarily designed for women then it's not the "norm" and a man wearing it is "reduced" by having to fit in the with the "lesser" sex.

Apart from the uniform thing, I agree with what namechangeguy says, although it's hard to see a way around it without potentially putting children in danger. IMO children are the least powerful in society so measures to protect them are acceptable as long as they are reasonable. Unfortunately the vast majority of sexual abusers are men, so ensuring minimal unsupervised contact with men seems reasonable to me. Shit for the vast majority of men who are not abusers though.

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 12:49:53


I think namechangeguy's explanation is far closer to the truth.

OneMoreChap Wed 21-Nov-12 12:52:39


Unfortunately the vast majority of sexual abusers are men, so ensuring minimal unsupervised contact with men seems reasonable to me.

OK, how about infanticide.

Numbers are much the same for men and women...
Perhaps we ought to minimise unsupervised for everyone.

Frankly, your post is offensive to me a parent, as a man, and as a human.

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 12:57:42

OneMoreChap, infanticide is almost always a parent, so not relevant for a discussion about nursery care.

I agree Cailin's post is offensive, but it's not untrue and we know from posts on here that there are a lot of parents on here who are uncomfortable about their small children being cared for by men. A lot that aren't and it doesn't make it right, but it is true.

CailinDana Wed 21-Nov-12 13:02:25

I didn't mean to offend you, OMC but the statistics bear out what I say. As Durab says, infanticide tends to be at the hands of parents rather than outside carers so it's not a sensible comparison.

I do agree that it's totally crap for all men to be tarred with the same brush. The problem is that children tend not to report abuse until long after the event so as long as the danger is there it can happen and it can go on for years. It ruins children's lives. The main risk factor is the carer of the child being male, so it makes a certain amount of sense to reduce the risk by reducing the opportunity for a male carer to have sole charge of a child.

I was only ever looked after for any length of time by two men (at the same time) and they both sexually abused me. None of the women who ever looked after me (and there were many) did. That's part of the reason why I hold this view.

namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 13:03:57

Palermo, Juventus (both Italian top division clubs) and Everton all have pink football kits. In rugby union, Stade Francais wear a pink kit, and there was also a team in New Zealand that did (maybe still do). If professional rugby players wear pink, I would guess it is not as much of an issue as it once was.

BelaLugosisShed Wed 21-Nov-12 13:08:03

How is the truth offensive?
If your child was abused by a male nursery worker perhaps you would have a different opinion? ( I know that a female nursery worker was sexually abusing children but that is much, much rarer)
It's a calculated risk to leave your child in the care of others, for lots of reasons, it seems sensible to lessen the risk as much as possible.

i agree that pink shouldn't be seen as a woman's colour, but leaving aside that and the 'risk of abuse' aspect, i suspect there could possibly be a problem with a pink uniform in conjunction with a perception of childcare being a woman's role

the examples of pink work/rugby/football shirts don't apply in the same way as they are in conjunction with a traditionally male role

namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 13:20:49

I think we would all agree that while the chances of it happening are statistically small, men who have access to children are statistically more likely to sexually abuse them. It's a tiny proportion, but it is there.

So, extending this logic, the chances of men getting on a plane that is hijacked/destroyed by terrorists is statistically tiny. However, if it does happen, statistically speaking this is carried out by Muslims more than other religions. As a side issue, statistically most Muslims have brown skin. So, am I within my rights to insist that I only travel on aeroplanes where my fellow passengers, plus crew, are white non-Muslims? After all, it's a calculated risk, and it's my life.

Sorry if it's offensive, but statistically it's the truth.

TiggyD Wed 21-Nov-12 13:22:00

Leaving the issue of men working with children aside... is seen as the 'male' colour but there is not the same problem with women wearing it. The problem is less with older men. But the majority of people who enter childcare do it from school and I think a lot of boys of 14-18 would have an issue of wearing pink, and any other things that a Vin Diesel type 'true man' would do. Not having a pink uniform would help more men/boys go into that nursery. It would be better using the wrong method, but it would still help the inequality.

namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 13:22:40

Willie, would you agree that if pink is making inroads into traditionally male/macho pursuits such as professional rugby and football, then there may at least be an end in sight to the view that pink is for girls only?

TiggyD Wed 21-Nov-12 13:23:54

Can't we ever talk about men in childcare for more than 10 posts without mentioning paedophilia or murdering children?

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 13:25:32

No, you're not entitled to insist name, just as nurseries/parents can't insist on all female staff, but it true that men of asian decent are subjected to more security checks at airports. (you might not get anyone to admit it, but they are)

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Wed 21-Nov-12 13:29:36

there's no men's rights board that isn't filled with bitter drooling nutters having a rant
Sounds like the feminism topic! grin

Anyway, pink is just a colour. It only has signifigance if people choose to recognise it. Maybe nobody should wear pink or blue?

BelaLugosisShed Wed 21-Nov-12 13:35:52

Two of the young nurses who come multiple times daily to care for my seriosly ill (female) neighbour are men and wear pink/lilac tunics - I honestly think that if a young man wants what is seen as a traditionally female career, the colour of the uniform will make no difference whatsoever, mainly because they obviously won't be in thrall to the macho culture that permeates society.

mignonette Wed 21-Nov-12 13:39:42

Some research claims that Blue was originally a 'female' colour due to its association with the Virgin Mary whilst pink was more 'male' due to its proximity to red (The NY Times 1905). Other research disputes this. Louisa May Alcott writes of blue ribbons for a male twin and pink for a girl in 'Little Women' back in 1869 yet this was also written about as a 'European' fashion.

Many state the two colours were interchangeable yet when I visited the 'Threads Of Feeling' exhibition in Bloomsbury's Foundling Hospital Museum, most of the textile pieces left with male babies were not of pink hues. They may not have been blue necessarily, but pink was not in evidence. The exhibition did give a good idea of fashions in textiles and how they percolated down to the poorer people too.

possibly ncg, but what i'm trying to say is that if you care about appearing macho then you would be more likely to wear pink in a sporting context than in a caring context. though as bela says if you care about appearing macho you are less likely to choose the caring profession grin

OneMoreChap Wed 21-Nov-12 13:52:40

TiggyD Wed 21-Nov-12 13:23:54
Can't we ever talk about men in childcare for more than 10 posts without mentioning paedophilia or murdering children?

Because "ensuring minimal unsupervised contact with men seems reasonable to me.". Apparently.

Incidentally, since the majority of abuse happens in home. like child murder, surely it's not that invalid a comparison?

I'd sure as shit not advise a young man to enter a child-contact profession with the hysteria about men...

slatternlymother Wed 21-Nov-12 14:04:36

The nursery we send our DS to has purple uniforms (black trousers though) and the two male assistants that work there are bloody amazing. One is very young, 19 or 20 and the other is in his 30's with kids of his own.

I would say about 70% of parents doing the drop off are fathers, who often chat to the assistants about their children or issues affecting them. The behaviour at the nursery is very balanced, and not all of the children have full time dads, so it's nice for them to get a steady male input into their lives.

I think people can get a bit funny about the pink thing; it's just a colour. I certainly don't know anyone who would criticise a man for being a nursery nurse either. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, it just beggars belief how people can criticise someone in this day and age for a) having a job and b) having the foresight to be in an industry where there isn't going to be a shortage of jobs.

drjohnsonscat Wed 21-Nov-12 14:12:49

CailinDana is right. It is seen as demeaning for men to wear pink in a way that it's not demaning for women to wear blue. Because it's humiliating for a man to get too close to womanly things somehow where it's not humiliating for a woman to do manly things (because obviously being a man and manly things are better). I hope this is changing but it's not changing fast enough and it's limiting for men and women.

I don't think the nursery should have to change the colour because it underlines the thought that some things are ok for women but not for men. But on the other hand, it would be great to have more men in nurseries so don't want there to be any unnecessary barriers. Hopefully we will all get over all this rubbish one day and allow men to be nurturing as they are naturally anyway.

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 14:24:21

The whole pink is for girls thing baffles me.

Toys and clothes are far more gender specific (mostly by making them pink) than they were when I was a child, despite the progress we've made in so many areas. OTOH my DS1 (11yo) and his friends wear loads of shocking pink and pink chinos seem to be all the rage among boys/young men. DH would be less keen, but it is worn my lots of men of his age. My Dad would be horrified if I bought him pink shirt.

TBH I think the real reason that childcare is not the done thing for men, is the poor pay. It's still something that mums do to supplement the family income - not a job for the main earner sad

GetAllTheThings Wed 21-Nov-12 14:29:22

My question is this. Is it right for nurseries to choose pink as the colour of their staff's uniform?

I don't think it's right. I don't really see why there should be any uniform tbh. Nobody ( including the one male ) at my dd's nursery wears a uniform.

I guess in one way it might show the youngsters that pink isn't an exclusively female colour, but there's obviously going to be some contention about it, where there wouldn't be with a more 'neutral' colour.

I would guess the motives behind it aren't considered and along the lines of making it gender neutral, I'd assume it's because they just didn't think about it very hard.

namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 14:30:25

Re the rates of pay, I don't know what they are. What I do know is that friends have paid in excess of 1,000 pounds per month for full-time nursery care for a single child, so there does seem to be a lot of money within the industry. It obviously is not filtering down though. Do nursery owners just skim off huge profits, or are there large overheads?

OneMoreChap Wed 21-Nov-12 14:34:48

If you want to look at things like scrubs they come in all sorts of colours for all sorts or roles - and 3X is large.

TiggyD Wed 21-Nov-12 14:42:20

For a qualified nursery worker in my area of the home counties it's £14,000-£16,000 ish.
In my fantasy nursery I would offer polo shirts in blue, green, red, blue, yellow, orange and purple and let the staff choose just because I think a choice is nice.
I think the problem with young lads is because pink looks 'gay' rather than 'female'.

KRITIQ Wed 21-Nov-12 16:18:40

I don't think the colour or the look of a uniform will be the deal breaker for anyone who wants to go into a profession. Plenty of jobs involve wearing uncomfortable, silly or weird outfits, but people still do the jobs.

I think if you are looking for barriers, pay, status and promotion prospects are probably the main ones. In our patriarchal society, these are characteristics that men are supposed to value and they generally aren't conditioned to see caring as a suitable role for a man (a stupid shame.) So, they probably will have never been encouraged to think of such a career, by family, by teachers or by friends. In my experience, often move into caring professions later in life, perhaps when they've actually experienced caring for others and value it and have got to the point in life where pay and status aren't big deals for them.

drjohnsonscat Wed 21-Nov-12 16:27:28

I think it looks "gay" because it looks "female" iykwim. Two entirely distinct groups that some men need to distance themselves from in case they get tainted by gayness or femaleness.

namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 18:37:49

I am not sure gay and feminine are necessarily the same look. Are you confusing homosexuality and cross-dressing? Most gay men appear to dress pretty much as men.

KRITIQ Wed 21-Nov-12 18:40:19

Well, yes, but that's deeply sad if about the worst insult or slight one can level at a man is to suggest that he is in any way like a woman. sad

In my view, homophobic in such a context are linked closely to the phenomenon of "male is what is not female." Being gay, or seen to be gay, is like being a proxy female and therefore, not "male" enough.

Seriously though, why is it THAT bad to be associated with female characteristics, even when it's meant to be a slur? My FIL is quite often misidentified as female, but it doesn't bother him any more than getting anything else wrong on a first impression. My ex DH also experienced this from childhood onwards but again, it was no biggie.

What's the deal?

LynetteScavo Wed 21-Nov-12 18:47:34

I think a pink polo shirt is way better than a tabard with bears on it. Or any tabard for that matter.

I have a loathing of tabards. - in fact I'm not keen on nurseries having a uniform, although I do see how they are easier for staff.

ATM pink is fashionable for men, but how long will that last?

But, yes, I think it is right (acceptable) that nurseries choose pink as the colour of their staff's uniform, if they chose to have a uniform. If young men have a problem wearing pink, then they are going to have a problem singing "I'm a little teapot" complete with actions.

OneMoreChap Wed 21-Nov-12 19:12:09

ATM pink is fashionable for men, but how long will that last?

I had a pink shirt in 1974, if it helps....

I've only skimmed the thread, so apologies if I'm repeating anyone.

I think men so insecure in their masculinity that they'd turn down a job with a pink uniform are unlikely to want to work in early years at all.

Himalaya Thu 22-Nov-12 08:31:27

I must admit I would be put off by a nursery with pink uniforms. They must have thought "hmmm, we employ people in an area of work that is predominantly female, I know lets dress them in pink" - it does not bode well for them having enlightened ideas in general about girls and boys.

Plus what the OP said about making male staff feel like they are in the "wrong job".

namechangeguy Thu 22-Nov-12 09:34:21

Can I just say, as one of the weaker sex, that I have no problem with pink. I have a pink shirt on right now, at work, where people can see me. It's rather dashing, if I am honest.

Those people who think that my shirt is demeaning, or makes me more feminine, or identifies me as gay are living in the 1950's. An I am in my 40's, not some metrosexual 17 year-old with my jeans waistband round my knees.

KRITIQ Thu 22-Nov-12 11:44:41

Weaker sex? What's that? confused

grimbletart Thu 22-Nov-12 11:55:09

It's a variation KRITIQ on that well known saying "as a mere man...." To be seen frequently in angry letters to the Daily Fail grin

drjohnsonscat Thu 22-Nov-12 12:16:09

Kritiq, yes you've got the point I was trying to make. I'm not muddling up homosexuality and cross dressing! Of course not.

namechangeguy Thu 22-Nov-12 13:21:22

It was an attempt at levity, as was the dashing bit. It seems even my humour is weak sad

I do like as a mere man, grimble. I might appropriate that!

grimbletart Thu 22-Nov-12 14:04:26

Don't do that namechangeguy - it's a phrase seen everywhere and when read you absolutely know it is going to be followed by a stream of misogyny - and you are not one of those terrible chaps.

namechangeguy Thu 22-Nov-12 17:20:15

grin I am getting everything wrong today! Thanks for the warning.

GetAllTheThings Fri 23-Nov-12 11:12:15

Men who wear pink shirts earn more than those who don't apparently....

Twas on the Today program yesterday. Not sure how scientific the study was though and the only links I can find are The Express and The Daily Mail.

OneMoreChap Fri 23-Nov-12 11:24:44

Don't do that namechangeguy - it's a phrase seen everywhere and when read you absolutely know it is going to be followed by a stream of misogyny - and you are not one of those terrible chaps.

I shall cry...

grimbletart Fri 23-Nov-12 12:23:20

Ooh sorry OneMore.... of course I meant blokes not chaps grin

nannynick Fri 23-Nov-12 12:39:54

I feel a nursery should not have Pink or Blue as a main colour of their uniform or logo. I feel that young children quickly associate those colours with gender.

Tabbards are horrible. Wgen I temped in nurseries a black tabbard was part of the temp ahencies uniform. Incidently the other colours were: white polo shirt, red sweatshirt, black trousers, black shoes - that applied for all temps regardless of them being male or female.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 25-Nov-12 08:49:19

I dunno Himalaya, my nursery has pink polo shirts and, as it's an independent, it's probably just that it's the owner's favourite colour or something - don't think it's been thought through in the way you suggest.

I agree with nick - "pink is for girls, blue is for boys" is probably most prevalent in the 0-5 age group that nurseries cover - on that basis rather than the basis Tiggy outlines, it might be better for nurseries to avoid both.

SherbetDibDab Sun 25-Nov-12 08:57:28

At our nursery staff can choose shirt colours, pink or green, and a couple of the guys wear pink.

PurpleTinsel Wed 28-Nov-12 22:10:59

The staff wear purple uniforms at DS's nursery, and yet have no male staff.

Seriously, I'd be very surprised if the colour of the uniforms is the major thing putting men off jobs in nurseries.

I'm not an expert, so correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't someone interested in a career working in a nursery generally have committed themselves to working in the sector by signing up for college courses in childcare, before checking out what the uniforms at local nurseries look like?

It being seen as 'womans work' is probably far more of a factor.

DudeIAmSoFuckingRock Wed 28-Nov-12 22:17:48

i know plenty of men happy to wear pink shirts/jumpers/underwear when it's being sold in topman or river island. to use it as an excuse not to enter a particular job is ridiculous.

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