The gender differences rule, OK?

10th March 2006 at 00:00
The other day on the Chartered Teachers Reunited discussion board (yes, there really is one), some of the contributors were arranging a get-together. One of the men thought that perhaps he wouldn't come along because he felt he would be outnumbered. He is probably quite correct, but why, one wonders?

It comes as no surprise that it is women who are involved in organising and attending the meeting. Raj Persaud (TES Friday, February 10) tells us that socialising and friendships are more important to women than to men. Women are more emotional in their friendships and demand more from their friends. These are generalisations, of course. We all know both women and men who do not fit into these stereotypes.

But are there actually more women than men who are chartered teachers? It would hardly be surprising if there were, given that 75 per cent of Scotland's teachers are women.

In fact, of those who have completed the chartered teacher programme, there are 30 men and 171 women. This represents a higher proportion of women than the 75 per cent that could be expected. In the first cohort of 37, you would have expected nine men but there were only three.

So, are men shying away from the chartered teacher programme? It would seem not. There are plenty of men on the programme. Even Morris Simpson (TES Scotland school diary) is giving it a go.

In April last year, the Scottish Executive published statistics on Scotland's teachers in September 2004. Of those on the chartered teacher programme at that time, men were slightly overrepresented, based on the proportion of male to female teachers in the various sectors.

Overall, 25 per cent of Scotland's teachers in 2004 were men. Based on this figure, you would expect that of the 1,830 undertaking the chartered teacher programme, 457 would be men. In fact, 483 were.

In primary schools, men make up only 7 per cent of the teaching force, but of those undertaking the chartered teacher programme, 11 per cent were men (87 out of 800).

These figures present a different picture from the statistics on those who have already achieved chartered teacher status. Surely that can't be because the men take longer to get things done? Is it perhaps because they can't handle the multi-tasking required to complete a chartered teacher submission as well as coping with a teaching job?

The men who have completed the programme seem to be just as capable as the women, so I don't think either argument can be substantiated. Maybe there were just more women with a lot of teaching experience who, for one reason or another, haven't chosen the management path. The first chartered teachers were predominantly, but not exclusively, mature women whose children had a level of independence.

The programme ought to be ideal for the committed teacher who also wants to be able to meet the needs of herhis family. Women are often disadvantaged in career progression by their need to take career breaks.

Perhaps more women are attracted by the caringnurturing roles involved in classroom teaching rather than the power and control elements involved in managing other teachers.

So why are there now higher than expected numbers of men progressing through the programme? Perhaps, now that it is proving to be viable, men are recognising the opportunity for career progression that it offers.

Men in teaching, as in other jobs, tend to be more orientated towards career progression than women and are more likely to pursue higher salaries. Last week's Kingsmill Report highlighted a pay gap in the UK averaging 18 per cent between all women working full-time and all men working full-time.

Hopefully, both women and men will come along to the planned chartered teacher get-together. Who knows what will come out of it. Inevitably, at some time there will be an association of chartered teachers. Perhaps this is the time for it.

If Raj Persaud is correct, men's preferred type of socialising is networking that helps them in their jobs. An association of chartered teachers might do just that.

Also useful in this context, of course, is the Chartered Teachers Reunited discussion board.

Anne McSeveney is a chartered teacher at Braidwood Primary in Carluke, South LanarkshireIf you have any comments, email Teachers Reunited is at Go to CPD, then Blackboard (members only)

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