I was about to sit down to write a post on some recent observations about the increasing gender gap at teacher leadership events, when the latest edition of Education Canada from the Canadian Education Association landed on my desk. The headline on their Winter 2010-11 issue reads “Where are the Male Teachers?”
The growing gap between the number of male and female teachers has been well-documented.
In this magazine’s editorial, Paula Dunning comments:
Just as we bemoan the paucity of women in positions of economic and political power, we should bemoan the paucity of men in positions that provide nurturing and guidance for young people of both genders.
In the feature article (which largely addresses the issue of the fear of false accusations against male teachers), Jon Bradley writes:
Male role models are becoming increasingly scarce in Canadian classrooms, and the demographics indicate that the current low numbers will continue to decline. While general statistics are open to flux and are often several years behind reality, it is clear that male teachers in elementary and middle schools will soon be a thing of the past. Secondary schools fair a tad better, but males are an increasing minority within the teaching ranks at all levels.
So, back to my observations — I was struck, recently, when I quietly snuck into the back of the West Vancouver Teachers’ Association Professional Development training session and realized I was the only male in the room. In fact, in several different sessions and meetings I have recently attended, I have noticed the male/female gap is quite pronounced.
Some recent observations and data:
In West Vancouver, we have recently started a teacher leadership series open to all teachers K-12; 19 of 24 teachers in our Leading Learning Teacher Leadership Series (K-12) are female.
This year I have become a board member for Learning Forward BC (formerly the Staff Development Council of BC). This group is one of the primary cross-role professional development organizations in the province; 9 of the 11 board members for Learning Forward BC are female.
Of our professional development representatives in West Vancouver, 26 of the 28 are female (as of last fall).
Of our school-based administrators, 21 of our 34 administrators are female.
Before one concludes that the gender gap is consistent through all aspects of professional development, it is interesting to look online. What I am seeing there is quite different:
Just prior to Christmas, I compiled a list of the edu-bloggers in BC — teachers, administrators and other professionals who were regularly blogging about K-12 education. At that point, I found 29 of 36 edu-bloggers were male.
I also did a quick count of those following me on Twitter and the male/female split is exactly even.
This is the first year I have really noticed the gender gap at teacher leadership events. It has really shifted quite quickly. Just 15 years ago, it was almost unheard of for female secondary school principals — in many ways we have made huge, positive strides.
As I started to think about this topic, I saw it through the lens of the changing face of leadership, it is really just that the leadership is becoming more reflective of the changing face of our profession.
For interest, here is the provincial 2009-10 gender statistics (teachers):
2009/10 total teachers (FTE) 33053.7: 22508.2 (female), 10545.6 (male).
Here is the link to the full data from the BC Ministry of Education.