Being a male primary teacher can be lonely. At times, you can find yourself as the only man in the staffroom, perhaps even the first male teacher in that school, ever.
Most of the time, however, you don’t really think about gender. You just crack on, and do the best job you can.
There are the odd occasions when either I or other men who I know have experienced what I suppose could be described as sexism or, at the very least, inappropriate.
I’m not having a sense-of-humour bypass or being easily offended. I’m just reflecting on almost 10 years at the chalkface.
If a man is unwell, it’s always put down as “man flu”. Why is a man’s cold or flu easier to recover from than a woman’s? It creates an unfair culture where men who probably should take a day off to recover don’t.
I’ve also heard women openly slagging off men’s fashion in a way they would never do with each other. An old colleague of mine was once openly slaughtered for daring to wear shorts during hot weather. Other teachers said “Put those legs away!” or “Did you shave your legs?” Whether it was meant to or not, it made him feel uncomfortable and he wore trousers the next day.
A university friend of mine was recently promoted, and the general feeling from his staff was that it was because he was male. That takes away all the years of hard work, hours of interview preparation and general likeability.
If you’re wondering why I’ve written this – thinking that it’s clearly only a bunch of daft comments, and promotion surely isn’t that difficult for male teachers – my answer is: what if it was a women raising such concerns? Would she be dismissed quite as readily?
Adam Black is a primary teacher in Scotland