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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.

WillieWaggledagger Wed 21-Nov-12 13:17:37

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.

WillieWaggledagger Wed 21-Nov-12 13:51:38

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.

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