Attracting the opposite gender

10th June 2005 at 01:00
While the teacher education institutions and the Scottish Executive recognise there is a gender imbalance in teaching, finding a solution is proving tricky.

"I'm pleased that the Scottish Executive has acknowledged that there is no quick fix," says Jim McNally, head of children and schools sector at Stirling University.

"It needs careful consideration, but something does need to be done. In the past 10 years we have certainly seen a shift in the balance between men and women across all of teaching."

Few would agree with Professor Eric Wilkinson, of Glasgow University, that part of the solution is having quotas for male trainee teachers. The Scottish Executive has rejected this suggestion.

A change in the way teaching is marketed may help. Dundee University, which has 280 women and only 14 men on its BEd course, is to revise its prospectus so it doesn't just feature women.

It is also working with guidance teachers in schools to ensure teaching is promoted as a worthwhile career, and going out to the graduate fairs.

Some institutions have considered incentives and, less enthusiastically, positive discrimination.

"We are looking at special recruitment schemes, trying to find incentives that would attract more men into the profession," says David Thomson, director of undergraduate studies at Moray House in Edinburgh. "But you can't compromise on quality or standards. Only the best students should be accepted, regardless of gender.

"The universities are well aware that they are not producing enough male teachers, but each one is experiencing the same problems. Even at application stage, men are massively outnumbered by women, which suggests setting quotas wouldn't work.

"There will not be more men chasing after jobs, until more men are choosing education as a degree."

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