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Gender and Caring Peter Moss Thomas Coram Research Unit Institute of Education, University of London.

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Presentation on theme: "Gender and Caring Peter Moss Thomas Coram Research Unit Institute of Education, University of London."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gender and Caring Peter Moss Thomas Coram Research Unit Institute of Education, University of London

2 The gendered workforce Why is work with young children so gendered - why are there so many women, why so few men? Why might we want to make the work less gendered? How might we make the work less gendered?

3 The gendered workforce, UK

4 The gendered workforce, Denmark, 2000

5 The gendered workforce Work with children gendered - not just childcare Gender related to children’s age - the younger the children, the higher the gendering Work with elderly people gendered - need to take broad view Workforce gendered in Scandinavia

6 Why is the workforce gendered? 1.Poor pay and conditions?NOT major reason Danish nursery workers earn twice as much as UK Case for better pay and conditions applies to women and men 2.Children seen as ‘women’s work’ Major reason Substitute mothering, women have ‘natural’ ability to care 3.Gendered work reproduces itselfSupplementary reason Recruitment, training, work assumes female workforce

7 Why might we want the work less gendered? ‘Meeting the Childcare Challenge’ (1998) English Department for Education “Working with children is seen as a predominantly female occupation. Yet male carers have much to offer, including acting as positive role models for boys – especially from families where the father is absent” (Para. 2.25)

8 Why might we want the work less gendered? ‘Men as workers in Services for young Children’ (1996) Jytte Juul Jensen For children:  Educating children in gender equality – “children do not do what we say they should do, but they do what they see we do”.  Children of single parents – ‘lack male figure to identify with’  Gender pedagogy

9 Gender pedagogy “The fact that boys and girls are different in some ways and choose different games and activities gives different challenges to those employed – both female and male. The daily pedagogic work must take these differences into account if the needs of both boys and girls are to be covered…[This] can be more easily fulfilled by a mixed-gender work group …A single-gender staff group has greater difficulty in treating children equally”

10 Why might we want the work less gendered? For staff Improved staff cooperation Stimulates development of centre and its culture

11 The provocation of difference “The male culture can be a magic mirror for the female pedagogue. As men have other ways than women it will be necessary to discuss routines, rituals, regulations and so on. In this way employment of men can be seen as providing a potential for development in the centre and can be a dynamic factor in the centre’s culture”

12 Why might we want the work less gendered? Jytte Juul Jensen For parents Parents positive Gets fathers more involved For men Develop caring side Rewarding work

13 Why might we want the work less gendered? ‘Men in the Nursery’ (1999) Cameron, Moss and Owen ?involve fathers more… BUT can work both ways ?value for boys, children from lone parent families…BUT why not girls, do children from lone parent families have no men in their lives? ?male role model…BUT essentialist view of masculinity - is there only one way to be a man?

14 “ I wear pink or something, my clothes are quite bright, and their mothers wouldn’t put them in that and they’ll say ‘Oh, you can’t wear that ‘cos you’re – boys can’t wear that sort of thing. I’d like to think I’m a role model that questions the way men have to be…but I don’t consciously go out to do that, maybe I’m rejecting the old sort of stereotypes and role models that I had”

15 Why might we want the work less gendered? Cameron, Moss and Owen Gender equality in practice - images of sharing care for children, mothers, fathers, others Workforce diversity - “visibility of men and women both as categories and in their infinite variety” Making gender a visible and important issue - children, parents, staff, others Rethinking work with children - separating it from substitute mothering

16 Why might we want the work less gendered? With more formal services care of children will become more gendered - men do more in the home than in services Response to crisis of care: increased demand for ‘people workers’ (with children and adults); reduced supply of women

17 Why might we NOT want the work less gendered Men ‘take over’ senior positions Men enter ‘safe’ spaces for women Fears of child abuse –Very few verified cases –Separate issues of men’s recruitment and child protection –Develop protection strategies for all

18 How might we make the work less gendered? Are there any examples of men entering ‘women’s’ occupations? Can we learn from women entering ‘men’s’ occupations ?

19 How might we make the work less gendered? Sustained commitment and priority over (?10 +) years - no quick fix Involve all relevant organisations and institutions Policy, action plan, evaluate, review and reformulate Examine existing practices for recruitment, training, employment…develop practices for women and men (e.g. differing career paths, course content, concentrate men workers)

20 How might we make the work less gendered? Learn from experience … why has Sheffield’s Children’s Centre been successful? Discuss and discuss and discuss gender - use every opportunity Rethink and reform the work - ?new ‘core’ profession for work with children (e.g. pedagogue, ‘new teacher’)

21 References Cameron, C., Moss, P and Owen, C. (1999) Men in the Nursery: Gender and Caring Work. London: Paul Chapman Publishing Jensen, J.J. (1996) Men as workers in Childcare Services: a Discussion Paper (produced for the EC Childcare Network). Brussels: EC Equal Opportunities Unit Owen, C., Cameron, C. and Moss, P. (eds.) (1998) Men as Workers in Services for Young Children: Issues of a Mixed Gender Workforce. London: Institute of Education University of London. (Available from Institute of Education Bookshop: order by phone from ; or online at


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