By Danielle Galvin
Back in 2017, Macquarie University researchers tracked a worrying trajectory of a declining number of male teachers in Australian classrooms.
The study lead them to ask the question: Are male teachers headed for extinction?
The research showed a steady decline in numbers in the past 50 years.
Granted the research is now four years old, but the question remains: are there enough male teachers out there?
Dr Matthew Zbaracki is Head of School of Education at the Australian Catholic University.
The former primary school teacher said the latest statistics, from 2019, estimated 18 per cent of teachers in primary schools were male. In secondary school, there was a huge jump to 39 per cent.
“That’s the big difference, it’s very obvious in primary schools,” he said.
“I think there are a couple of reasons.
“One; there could be a gender stereotype around who teaches in primary school.
“I think there’s a lack of respect around the teaching profession in general which has an impact as well.”
While there’s no suggestion that any gender performs better in the classroom or gets different results, Dr Zbaracki said there’s a couple of reasons why it’s important.
“The reason why they are important is that children need to be able to have these experiences with teachers of both genders, and they need to have role models as well.
“Boys need to have role models that are men in the classroom instead of just females.
“I think it’s really important, learning styles and teaching styles are so critical.
“Being exposed to as many different teaching styles you possibly can, as well as positive role models (is important).”
He said partly there’s still a stigma still around men teaching, particularly in the junior years, but more needs to be done to build back respect for the teaching profession.
He hopes doing that will help attract more people to the profession.
The divide is even more stark when it comes to early education.
In 2018, according to University of South Australia research, men accounted for between 2-3 per cent of the workforce.
In Dr Zbaracki’s view, all educators bring different teaching styles to their environments, regardless of gender.
He said male and female teachers engage students in different ways.
“It’s important we don’t get complacent and be aware of this type of issue.
“Those statistics are pretty shocking, 18 per cent in primary schools, that’s shocking.”