When it comes to developing a culture of gender equality in your nursery or school, Inclusion needs to be understood as very different from Diversity. Simply having a wide variety of demographic characteristics within your teaching team won’t make a difference to your setting’s bottom line unless the people who fall into any one demographic feel welcomed. Inclusion refers to a cultural and environmental feeling of belonging.
Educational settings that hire more male teachers and have successfully established a gender-diverse workforce can reap the proven benefits that it provides, including a wide array of perspectives and experiences. However, seemingly innocuous practices that are embedded in a setting’s culture have the potential to make male teachers and early years practitioners feel unwelcome and segregated. By identifying the possible problems with these practices, a commitment to creating an equal and inclusive culture can lead to changes that can significantly enhance your work environment.
The importance of gender inclusion in nurseries and schools
Research from the Care Inspectorate indicates that a gender equality approach means helping children to achieve and aspire. Breaking down gender stereotypes from a young age helps to stop the negative consequences of inequality and discrimination as it can support children grow into adults who aren't limited by expectations based on their sex.
While the grounds to build a gender-inclusive culture in nurseries and schools may sound compelling, how crucial is hiring more male teachers in educational settings?
Recent research found that educational settings with gender-inclusive cultures have a clear advantage over those that do not.
Schools and nurseries with gender-inclusive cultures are:
- Two times more likely to exceed financial targets
- Three times more likely to be high performing
- Six times more likely to be innovative
- Eight times more likely to achieve business outcomes
Successfully developing a culture of gender equality requires a serious commitment from managers and headteachers in educational settings and participation at every level. While there may be challenges along the way, the efforts made to build a culture of gender inclusion will result in increased staff retention, greater commitment and input from the workforce, which can lead to improved overall business outcomes.
Gender equality Checklist
Male teachers and early years practitioners need to be treated with the same respect and consideration as women working in childcare and education. Male teaching staff deserve an environment where they can feel included and represented. For this reason, we have put together a checklist that helps nurseries and schools build a culture of gender equality:
- Ensuring nursery managers and headteachers understand that gender inclusion is about ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard, new ideas are considered and opinions are valued.
- Training nursery managers and headteachers – and hold them accountable – to demonstrate that gender inclusivity is a core competency.
- Forming a gender inclusion council with genuine influence and authority.
- Valuing differences and creating an environment where people can feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work.
- Identifying the needs of male teachers and early years practitioners, and give them necessary support and resources.
- Providing male teaching staff with a safe space to voice their concerns.
- Benchmarking key aspects of your setting’s culture, and understanding the employee experience before making changes to promote gender inclusivity.
- Remembering that daily interactions are the most telling sign of whether your educational setting has a gender-inclusive culture.
It is crucial to be your authentic self at work. Male teachers and early years practitioners should not feel that they cannot be who they truly are because of another person’s preconceived judgement.
If male teachers and early years practitioners feel they cannot be who they truly are and express themselves in a way that is natural for them, they will not be able to display and reach their full potential in the workplace.
If an employee is struggling with something in their private life that they don’t feel they can share, that employee will feel isolated. They may not be able to focus on their work and could develop a feeling that no one cares about them and start to think about an exit strategy.
On the other hand, when male teachers and early years practitioners experience genuine respect and feel safe to express themselves, productivity, staff retention rates and morale all increase.
Nursery managers and headteachers have a duty to create an environment where people can be their authentic selves and set the example with their own behaviour that showcase respect and a willingness to listen, and clearly communicates the value of every employee.
As a gender-inclusive nursery or school, you will be increasingly looking to attract and retain male teachers and early years practitioners to your setting. You can read our useful guide with 20 top tips to make your setting more male-inclusive, and therefore attractive to potential male recruits.