The Lack of Male Teachers and Its Effects on Boys
Photo by Achapunneka via Flickr

Most of us here at SheHeroes and those of you who visit our site and read our blog are doing so because we are working hard to help encourage our daughters and the young girls in our lives to break gender stereotypes and strive to be whomever they want to be when they grow up. And there are many organizations, groups and people out there working just as hard to do the same in the classrooms of America. As important as the cause to help girls in school has become in the last 25 years, there has been one unforeseen casualty–boys.

Boys are now struggling to keep up with their female counterparts, and failing. Girls are earning more degrees than boys and studies are showing that more female high school seniors aspire to graduating a four-year college than male high school seniors. There could be many reasons for the disadvantage boys seem to now have in the classroom. Including a few that have been floated around in discussions on the web, but one reason that seems to really stand out is the lack of male teachers at the elementary school level. This could play a huge part in the difficulties boys face in school. Positive male influences are vital for young boys who we want to see grow up to be healthy, successful and driven young men. And at the elementary age it’s vital for boys (and girls) to be exposed to positive role models from both sexes.

According to “Recuperative Masculinity Politics” (Martino, 2008):“…perceived intensified feminization of elementary schooling and the anxieties it incites for men doing women’s work represents another example of defensive masculinity with educational policy and the public media responding in ways which present men as victims who are in need of affirmative action initiatives to increase their presence in a female-dominated world where boys are being deprived of suitable role models.” (Martino, 2008, p.192)

It can also be said that having more men involved in programs such as the PTA can have a positive impact on young boys as well.

Take a moment and let us know in the comments what you think about this epidemic.

What are some of the ways we can start to correct the lack of male teachers? Are there male teachers at your child’s elementary school and do you feel that they have a positive influence? How do you think positive male role models impact a boy’s view of girls and women?

5 thoughts on “The Lack of Male Teachers and Its Effects on Boys

  1. Prior to first grade and especially prior to kindergarten, my boys were outgoing, confident, tell-the-world-how-smart-I-am kind of kids. But boy were they humbled when they arrived at grade school, and were measured mostly by how well they could draw, color and write. My boys are slightly fine motor delayed (well, not really from an age perspective, but from a class year perspective, yes) and that is a huge detriment because the mastery of fine motor skills is the gateway to all future learning.

    This is partially why the other boys in my sons’ classes are a year older. The older boys had that extra year to perfect their fine motor.

    I have to say that the photocopied worksheet material in school isn’t geared toward boys. The topics include gardening and pets and one time, dolls! You should have seen the intentional mess that was the doll gold seal book my son had to make.

    I feel a bit like my son’s female (and childless) teacher can’t quite see the forest through the trees. Rather than attributing his wiggles to youth (he’s on the young side) or that he’s a boy, she frequently mentions words like vestibular or sensory input. His self esteem on any given day is dependent upon whether he can get his lower case g’s underwater.

    I feel that a male teacher might better be able to understand my sons.

    Our nation’s sons have vast potential, just as girls do! Funny how in this race to advocate on behalf of girls, boys seem to have suffered. I wish we could gear school standards to both genders. Boys and girls – they are all important.

  2. I guess I want to chime in on the fact that I don’t know if I believe this. I have a son in 6th grade, and a daughter in Kindergarten. They are two very differently wired children. Each has strengths the other does not and vice versa. Not only is it gender, but also their personality. My son has experienced his first male teacher this year, and surprisingly, this has been the most difficult, painful and yet-to-be-resolved teacher that we have come across. So, I can’t say that the gender imbalance among teachers is really an issue I have personally seen. I dislike the fact that men are not signing up to be elementary teachers. The whole notion that men only aspire to teach at the higher (better paid) level makes me mad. Perhaps if we had better pay across the board, we would see a larger range of male teachers?

  3. You both make great points ladies! Akemi, I think that if we saw a larger number of men in the classroom I think the gender balance would tip way more towards the middle which would help both boys and girls, and we would see a major shift in the how well our kids are doing as a whole.
    And Denise, I totally agree and I think that the salary issue is probably the most important issue in this discussion….

  4. As a school psychology professional, I know that there are some valuable benefits for boys being able to interact regularly with nurturing male and female teachers. A lot of the boys that I work with don’t have stable men in their lives, so a positive male teacher, counselor, or school psychologist can make a huge impact on the way that they see men and their ideas of what it means to be male. In my opinion, having positive, nurturing people at school of both genders is important to both boys and girls.

  5. My wife and I are at the tail end of raising six children, one girl and FIVE boys with our girl being the first born and in her early 30s and the youngest boy just shy of 18 yrs. Having been at this process of raising and educating our children for the last 30 some odd years and having tried a variety of educational options throughout those years I have made a few observations and have come to some (what I believe to be) well founded conclusions.
    Most of the female teachers of most of my boys in their early years (preschool through about 3rd grade) were wonderful influences on my boys and, for the most part, highly competent with a couple of negative and harmful exceptions. If I could have only known about those teachers and the harmful effects they were having on my boys at that time in their lives I would have pulled them out of those situations and opted for a different and better educational experience for them. But now looking back from this vantage point I believe that a more positive early education experience would have been had by my boys if I could have exchanged even those competent female teachers for all men teachers for all of my boys, maybe even in preschool, but certainly from kindergarten onward. Even as my boys progressed on through to the upper grades and into high school most, if not all, of the negative classroom situations occurred with female teachers. I am not saying that these were not competent teachers, but it seems that for at least my boys, that boys respond better with male educational authority figures.
    At one point in this process my employment situation changed and I was handed the opportunity to home school my three middle boys. Those were wonderful years and I felt more like a camp counselor then a teacher. I will admit that not a lot of educating was done during those years (although I did teach the youngest of that group to read by age four) the experience in total was very positive with long lasting positive effects that I believe can be felt even now. And even though the boys did not learn a whole lot while under my tutelage, when my employment situation changed and I went back to work my boys picked up where they left off in the classroom without missing a beat.
    The most significantly positive influences on my boys were male teachers, coaches and ministers, who along with their fathe,r mentored them into male adulthood. Today, we are still not done with the education process of our children but within 2 to 3 years we will have five of our children out of college, three with master’s degrees and two in the process there of and one still working on his undergraduate degree.

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