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Women and to answer to my daughter?

(21 Posts)
camaleon Thu 11-Jun-09 09:01:54

My daughter (4 years old) has asked me why only women look after children. I understand her confusion since at home both my husband and I share the responsibilities with them 50%. However, only women look after them in the nursery. I know that only women will be her teacher in the school where she is going next September. It was one standard question I had for all the schools I visited: How many men are staff members? The answer was generally: none.

How do I answer my daughter? It is difficult to educate on equality when the image she is getting is women are the primary carers. Would you raise the issue at all in the school?

flamingobingo Thu 11-Jun-09 09:04:15

Just tell her the truth - not many men want to do that job! It's not the nursery's fault.

giveloveachance Thu 11-Jun-09 09:17:59

Well, its the money issue too isnt it? Lots of men just could not afford to support their families on what any sort of child care profession pays - especially early years care.

HerBeatitudeLittleBella Thu 11-Jun-09 09:19:04

Lots of women can't afford ot support their families on it either.

camaleon Thu 11-Jun-09 09:23:01

If the issue is the money, then it obviously reinforces further discrimination against women who would be the only ones accepting the job (obviously if they have a partner)

Is it only because men do not want the job? would you be happy with men looking after small kids?

plimple Thu 11-Jun-09 09:29:29

Answer her truthfully. It isn't only women that look after children, men do too, just not at her nursery. On the whole there are more women primary teachers/nursery staff, why does she think this is? See what she says and discuss from there.
There can still be equality of the sexes with more women choosing jobs involving children. There is an equality of choice, more women choose to do these jobs than men.

ramonaquimby Thu 11-Jun-09 09:35:29

feel very lucky that at my children's primary school there is male reception teacher, male year 1 teacher, male year 2 teacher and a few in the the juniors as well (don't know that side yet!)

giveloveachance Thu 11-Jun-09 11:06:28

Agreed herbeatitude - the pay is appalling.

Sad isnt it that as camaleon said, would you be happy with men looking after small kids?

dads do it all the time (well most do) but with all the publicity about men with other motives, its difficult for men to even try.

In my day to day life only see one man working with kids - a volunteer at play group - he is fab. so ramonaquimby - thats fantastic!

ICANDOTHAT Thu 11-Jun-09 11:18:37

Camaleon Would you ? I would love to see more men in foundation education. I think the early years is feminised and this is detrimental to our education system - an unbalanced gender input iyswim. I'm sure all my ds hears is blah, blah, blah half the time from being surrounded by women all day

FabulousBakerGirl Thu 11-Jun-09 11:20:51

I don't think the low pay is the only reason. I think some men still think it is women's work and something silly for men to do - by men who want to work in child care as well as their friends.

At my children's school there is one male teacher afaik.

camaleon Thu 11-Jun-09 11:21:48

Yes, I would leave my kids with a man, but I would be worried about it too. And, in a nursery, I would prefer a man and a woman to be really honest.
In reception years I will be very happy to have some male presence in their life. I believe women and men (by nature or nurture, whatever it is) are different and contribute differently in the development of the kids and their perception of the world.

GoodWitchGlinda Thu 11-Jun-09 11:26:43

Maybe just tell her that it is "traditional" (for want of a better word) for women to take on childcare jobs because they are the ones who have the children so it is more natural for them, but that it is also ok for a man to do that job, just not as common.

Ok, maybe a bit much for a 4 yr old. Just tell her that women are better at looking after children than me cos they are more organized? JOKING grin

NeedaNewName Thu 11-Jun-09 11:38:31

I'm lucky, there are several male teachers at DD1s school.

I can't believe that people would be woried about male teachers - FFS

Lets not forget, its not only men who abuse - look whats happening in Devon at the moment, should we all turn to home ed and every family shoudl have one stay at home parent?!

Spidermama Thu 11-Jun-09 11:43:41

Simple. Women are better with groups small children.

Flame me if you like for saying that, but it's absolutely true.

We have more of the skills needed including compassion, multi tasking and patience.

I know there are exceptions to this, but in general we all know it's true.

It's also a badly paid job and men tend to expect and get more money however, I really do think that in general women are better suited to this sort of work. I just wish the skills were recognised financially.

racmac Thu 11-Jun-09 11:49:07

Im lucky at ds's school - there is a male teacher in the nursery
male teacher in YR3 and YR4 and the head is male

I like it - i think its important for little boys (and girls) to have male role models.

OP - not sure what you can say - thats the way the world works i guess - you dont see many woman builders etc etc

Laugs Thu 11-Jun-09 11:50:31

I would definitely be happy with a man looking after my child. When a male nursery nurse started at DD's nursery I was delighted. Men and women do differ in their approach to childcare, so it's great for children to have the balance.

What to say to her? You could say that traditionally women have gone into more caring roles, like teachers and nurses and even though there is a lot more choice now, a lot of women still do these jobs because they are so good at them.

I don't think the money is why women rather than men go into these roles, by the way. At the start of people's careers (pre children) men and women earn roughly the same. The big pay gap comes later. The fact that women traditionally do these jobs may be why the wages have stayed low, though.

I have noticed that at my DD's nursery at least 4 of the staff (I think there are 8 altogether) have their own children there, so may have gone into it 'late' in order to fit in with childcare arrangements.

camaleon Thu 11-Jun-09 11:56:08

Thank you very much for all the contributions.

I have good ideas on how to explain this to her and still make clear that men also work in this profession (although she will not see herself for a while if our school does not change)

giveloveachance Thu 11-Jun-09 13:16:49

I think women are better with small children - on the whole, i think we are more inventive and have more patience to deal with toddlers tantrums for example, and we dont seem to mind the nappies as much as men!

Just watching me too with my lo - the male teacher on there is not much of a role model!

cory Thu 11-Jun-09 15:04:42

in countries where men find it easier to share the early childcare, you don't seem to hear this thing about men not being able to deal with nappies or men not being patient with tantrums

surely a lot of it is about expectation?

also, on Mumsnet at least, a woman who loses her temper with her children gets a lot of sympathy, a man in the same situation is written off as a twat

ds loved his first male teacher, several male teachers in his primary school and they're all brilliant (a couple of the female ones are very impatient, but I think that's personality rather than gender)

Laugs Thu 11-Jun-09 16:32:27

It's not even just expectation, but habit too. Nappies are pretty disgusting, but once you've done them a few times a day, every day, you barely even notice. It's not like women are programmed not to mind them: I'm sure child-free women hate nappies just as much as some men profess to. The same with tantrums (although this comes later when not all women are at home) - if you are used to your toddler tantruming, you know what is likely to set it off, you recognise signs of tiredness etc, then you are more likely to handle it better (or have good reason for handling it badly!). If you don't go through these processes day in, day out, they seem more extreme.

I don't think this is men's fault per se. The way our country views men's role in the home is still very backward IMO. They get 2 weeks paternity leave (that many feel they cannot even take) and once that time is over, the mother basically spends hour upon hour, usually alone, with her baby - getting to know its ways (and getting used to its nappies). I genuinely think if the maternity/ paternity leave in this country reflected a more equal approach to parenting, we'd see the knock on effect of this in so many ways. For one thing, you'd be used to seeing men playing with young children and wouldn't find it normal to ask 'Would you be happy with a man minding your child?'. That can only be a good thing.

piscesmoon Thu 11-Jun-09 16:51:29

I go to one school where the reception teacher is a man.
It is generally women but I am teaching at one tomorrow with 4 male teachers.
I think that it is the fault of society for being so suspicious of any man who wants to work with DCs-it puts a lot off from even volunteering to be a scout leader.
Better pay would help too!!
Get your DH to volunteer to help in the classroom once in a while OP and that would be a start.

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