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Nursery Managers Show

29 - 30 NOVEMBER 2024 EXCEL, LONDON

Guest blog: Let's hear it for the boys!

Guest blog: Let's hear it for the boys!
Jordan Tully reflects on the low percentage of men working in the early years sector and the news that it has decreased even further.

‘Why?’ That’s the word of the moment for me. I was incredibly disheartened to see the already imbalanced percentage of men working in the early years sector decrease again recently. The figure, which has sat at 3% for a long while now, has decreased further to 2%. This isn’t a big difference, you may think? And usually I would agree with you. One percent shouldn’t leave me feeling this disheartened, and you’re right, usually it wouldn’t – but after what I felt was a really positive year throughout 2023 for raising awareness of men in early years, to see a decrease is gutting.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s enough anymore. I was lucky enough to speak to the award-winning neurodiversity specialist Cheryl Warren recently on my podcast, Exploring Early Years With Jordan Tully, and while we weren’t necessarily referring to men in early years, we were talking in general about how we need to see a shift. A shift from awareness to acceptance and asking the question: how can we?

Let me explain this a little further. I regularly hear people talk about wanting to raise awareness of the under-representation of males working in the childcare sector, and I really do applaud anyone who is prepared to work to drive this. However, are we not already aware? Don’t we already know there are not enough men working in the sector? I just worry that we are all spending so much time trying to raise awareness and not enough time asking the question: why? And: how can we?  

We are aware now of the incredibly low and decreasing percentage. We now need to shift this to: why? Why is this? Why has it dropped even lower? Why is the percentage higher in primary school than in early years?

Once we have asked these questions moving from awareness to acceptance, we have to begin the shift from acceptance into the ‘how can we?’ How can we change this? How can we increase this figure? How can we make the sector attractive to a wider pool of candidates, offering diversity to our settings? And if nothing else, how can we stop it decreasing even further? We then need to be putting that into action. Awareness, acceptance and action. 

I feel a lot of work has gone into campaigning over the last few years, particularly in 2023, including a conscious effort I made throughout the last year. We saw the campaigns, the social media posts, the photos being used and content being published becoming more inclusive, and there was more representation. However, following this, the percentage has decreased? Why? Does this mean it wasn’t enough? So, let’s use the second half of this year to work even harder – to continue to raise awareness, as we don’t want that to stop, but we also need people to work equally as hard to move into the acceptance and action stages so we can hopefully see some positive changes. 

So, ask yourself this question, reflect on it, review it, and let’s improve all together. Are we campaigning to raise awareness solely, or are we also following this through with actions, plans and ideas? If so, great! If not, then don’t give up now. Let’s all work together to use that awareness we have raised to begin to see some action happening! We want to see traction. We want to see change. 

Let’s hear it for the boys!

 


 

 

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