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A Reality Check: The Gender Divide In Teaching

Updated: May 16

Teaching, in whatever capacity, is a wonderful profession. Helping others understand what they previously did not is a noble cause, and is usually a large factor in why individuals choose to enter the field.

It's an undeniable fact that the majority of the teacher population, particularly elementary and junior high, is female, while a smaller portion is male. These statistics vary, dependent on country, province, or state. The female to male percentage ratio can be anywhere from just shy of 85% female and 15% male, to 55% female and 45% male. But rarely do male teachers fall on the larger side of the percentage.

Why is this?


I have a few ideas.


1) Women, by their nature, are better suited to the role of teacher. They are typically more understanding, compassionate, patient, and nurturing.

2) Teaching is a profession which pays women better than other jobs traditionally do, and has benefits that are well suited to a family. 3) Working hours as a teacher are centered around a school day - this immediately makes it more attractive to women, particularly if they already have a family.


Let's take a look at why this might be the case:


1) Women, by nature, are better suited to the role of teacher. They are more understanding, compassionate, patient, and nurturing.


Teachers, specifically those who teach elementary and middle school, are often female, because that's the way the system has been designed. It's not to say that men can't, won't, or shouldn't be teachers - on the contrary, many men make excellent high school teachers, sports coaches, college or university professors, and shop instructors. The difference between what is typically thought of as a teacher (by which it is understood to be elementary and middle school), and the types of teacher positions that are usually filled by men is the style of teaching involved. Teaching high school, college and university students requires a certain level of understanding, skills, and life experience that is not necessary when teaching younger children. This, understandably, means that younger children require more patience and understanding than older and more capable students do. Patience and understanding are traits that come more naturally to females than they do to males.

2) Teaching is a profession which pays women better than other jobs traditionally do, and has benefits that are well suited to a family.


Leaving gender out of it for a brief moment - teaching has historically been one of the more secure and higher-paying jobs on the market, particularly when compared with other work, like factory or office jobs. Throughout history, women have struggled with a wage gap. Women would, of course, be more attracted to a job that pays better than other workplaces. Although the wage gap is a non-issue in our current world, the pattern of female teachers has stuck. Now, when looking at the benefits that a teaching position offers - with some form of dental, medical, optical, & other numerous benefits - it is easy to see why it is a sought-after position for women, who are typically more focused on building a career around a family. Supporting said family, both financially and physically, is a primary factor in the minds of many female teachers. This is not to say that men have not been, are not, or will not be family-centered, or that they do not think of what other options are present other than pay. On the contrary - the men of the past 200 years have been very focused on what options are available for a family. This is simply to say that women, when entering the workforce, absolutely have this concern in the forefront of their minds. Teaching is a more natural choice. 3) Working hours as a teacher are centered around a school day - this immediately makes it more attractive to women, particularly if they already have a family.


Fairly self-explanatory. Women, as traditional home-makers, wives, and mothers, will typically prefer to be home with their children when the children are home, particularly when they are little and can not care for themselves. Teaching hours are, obviously, more than what is done at school, but the additional work can easily be taken home or done elsewhere, so as to be present, capable, and available at home.


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