Celia Carson, national early years development officer at Children in Scotland, which organised the seminar with One Parent Families Scotland, said 90 per cent of lone parents are women.
Ian Maxwell of One Parent Families Scotland said that a worker in a pre-school group could earn as little as Pounds 1.80 an hour. "So the issue is not just about men."
John McLeod, depute at Fair Isle Nursery in Kirkcaldy, who took a qualification in social work after a career in the RAF, said: "The reason why you won't get many men from my generation is the career aspects of it. I am finished now as far as my career in child care is concerned because there is nowhere for me to go."
Ms Carson said colleges could help by encouraging more men to take childcare courses, but qualifications had to reflect the need for child care to have a higher status. She endorsed the Scandinavian model of a pedagogic qualification that combines care and education.
Mr McLeod acknowledged that fears of abuse have cast a shadow over work with children. "I always tell people what I am doing and the staff know where I am if I am involved with children," he said.