Why do more females than males work in education and how can we attract more men?

In June 2021, the DfE released updated statistics on the school workforce in England. It shows that on average, 75% of teachers are female – this is consistent with data from previous years. But why is teaching still a female-dominated profession and how can we attract more males into the education workforce?

First, some stats

The most recent School Workforce Census reveals some interesting facts about the breakdown of staff in the sector. Some of these findings are summarised below:

  • 962,638 staff members are employed in the education sector – of these, 5 in 10 are teachers, 3 in 10 are teaching assistants and 2 in 10 are other staff
  • 461,088 teachers are employed – that’s an increase of 7000 since 2019
  • 271,370 teaching assistants are employed – that’s an increase of 6000 since 2019
  • 43,516 people have entered the profession since 2019 – that’s a decrease of 4%
  • 34, 116 people have left the profession since 2019 – that’s a decrease of 17% since 2019
  • The mean pay for a teacher in 2020 was £41,799 – an increase of 3.1% since 2019
  • Pupil to teacher ratio is 20.6 in primary settings and 16.6 in secondary – that’s fairly consistent with previous years
  • 75% of classroom teachers are female, and 67% of headteachers are female

So why are there fewer men working in education?

Tradition?

There could be a number of reasons why men are less likely to enter the teaching profession in England. One such possibility is that in the past, teaching was seen as more of a “women’s role”. This was because women were thought to be more nurturing by nature and more suited to this sort of work – perhaps because it involved children and historically, women stayed at home to care for the young while men went out to work. It is possible that this perception is still echoing through the ages. In my personal situation, it certainly played a part in my decision to undertake teacher training. Working term-time hours would allow me to be at home for any children that came along when they were on school holidays. Meanwhile, my boyfriend was out chasing the pound and getting into highly paid sales roles… so in part, an element of tradition may come into it.

Pay gap?

It is no secret that there is still a pay divide between men and women. The gender pay gap in 2020 among all employees was 15.5% according to the Office of National Statistics. The teaching profession keeps gender on a relatively level playing field when it comes to pay – there are nationally set pay scales and clear routes for progressing through the teaching ranks, so perhaps women are more inclined to go for a profession which is ultimately more likely to treat them fairly when compared to men. However, this does not hold true when looking at senior appointments as (proportionally) more men make it to headship level than women in the sector – so there is still a clear divide there.

Flexibility?

Women are more likely to require flexible work than men. They are likely to need a decent maternity package at some point in their lives and are more likely than men to request part-time hours due to family and other commitments. It is therefore possible that more women enter teaching with this in mind, whereas men may focus more on the “bread winning” aspect of their profession when choosing a career.

Why does the profession need men?

Regardless of the reason why fewer men join the education workforce, it doesn’t change the fact that more men are needed in the profession. At Axcis, we are regularly contacted by schools who feel that a man would be more suited to a particular role than a woman. This is often to do with the child or children in the class or the nature of the role. For example, a male PE teacher might be needed for an all-boys school because they will be required to enter changing rooms and a woman would be perceived as inappropriate for such a posting. Or in some SEND settings, older boys may need help with personal care matters such as going to the toilet and would be more comfortable receiving support from a male member of staff than a female. In other SEND situations, it may simply be a relational issue – children with SEMH concerns who have experienced trauma at the hands of a female may be better supported by a male staff member. Some children are also very strong, so schools supporting teenagers who are prone to explosive, physical outbursts may perceive that a male staff member may be better suited to work in such a class. Or a child may simply be lacking a male role model in their life and a school may feel that a male member of support staff would be appropriate. Whatever the reason, the profession needs more guys!

So how can we attract more males into the education workforce?

That is the million dollar (or pound) question. As employers advertising for staff, we are not legally allowed to discriminate on the basis of age, gender or a host of other factors, so we are treading on dodgy ground when it comes to advertising for male staff. That’s why we don’t see a great many adverts asking for this. However, it doesn’t change the fact that many schools are crying out for more male staff members. Perhaps the solution is for the government to make it a more attractive career option for men, but how could they do this? Simple – the same way that they make it more attractive for everyone – by listening to the workforce and responding.

Take South Korea for example, they have no problem recruiting male teaching staff because in their society, teaching is a very high profile job. Teachers have outstanding pay and conditions attached to the job and as such the profession has huge numbers of applicants. They can therefore be highly selective when it comes to who they take on and can balance gender etc. more easily. It also tends to raise the bar in terms of the quality of applicants. This in turn raises the public profile of teachers and keeps it an attractive career prospect. In contrast, when I trained as a teacher, I received comments ranging from “those who can’t – teach” and “must be nice to have a part-time job and all those holidays”. Public perception counts for a lot!

Are you looking for an education job?

Whether you are male or female, young or old, if you’re looking for a teaching or support staff role in the education sector then we’d love to hear from you. Axcis Education specialises in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This ranges from roles for support staff in mainstream primary and secondary schools and teachers for pupil referral units and MLD schools (which make ideal posts for mainstream teachers looking for a role that’s a bit different) to staff for more specialist settings for children with profound autism and learning/physical difficulties which generally require people with a bit more specialist knowledge. Whatever your level of expertise, why not get in touch with your nearest office or register on our website to start applying for our current jobs?

1 Comment on “Why do more females than males work in education and how can we attract more men?

  1. It’s about pay AND prestige. It is not a prestige job for women, and especially men. Go to a party and people find out what you do, they say nicely how wonderful it is, how important your job is, all the while mentally dismissing you. Try having a subject matter Ph.D. and all you hear is “Why aren’t you teaching at a college?” I tell them I can write what , I want, have tenure, and make more money. I had a woman Google the pay difference in the middle of the conversation! I’m sure it’s even worse for men.

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