01 SES 04 B, Square Peg in a Round Hole?
Parallel Paper Session
Over the last two decades the teaching profession has increasingly become a female occupation with women accounting for over two thirds of teachers in Australia (ABS 2010). A disparity in teacher gender ratios is also clearly evident in data from England and America, where women make up the majority of front line workers in education (Ashley and Lee, 2003; Hartman 1999). Figures for 2010 from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveal that men account for only 19 per cent of primary school teachers and 42 per cent of secondary school teachers. In addition to an estimated drop of 9 per cent in the proportion of male teachers over the last 10 years in Australia, there has been a decrease in male enrolment in education courses, with only 5.7 per cent of male students going on to study teaching. With this trend set to continue, projections of the number of men entering pre-service teacher training courses, reveal an even greater decrease in the number of males in primary and secondary schools in the future, a statistic increasingly common across the US and Europe. The reality for many students, that they will encounter a majority of female teachers during their school life, some students particularly at the primary level not encountering a male teacher at all. This phenomenon has been characteristically known as the feminisation of teaching.
The feminisation of teaching may well be seen as a valuable and important feature of our society (Hartman, 1999), however, whilst having more women in teaching is now an undeniable reality, there are many that consider this to be a problem, particularly in terms of the education of boys. One such view, is that held amongst some scholars, that the feminisation of the teaching profession is to be blamed for the concerns with boys’ lack of achievement in academic and social areas. West (1999b) insists that there are too many women teachers, too much feminisation of the classroom. He argues that the paucity of males in teaching is linked to a decline in school discipline, educational outcomes and problems in getting boys interested in schooling. (West, 2002). Considerable inroads have been made in researching teacher lives, however female teachers’ experiences in single sex boys’ schools, largely remains an under-researched area. With significant emphasis on the effects on a feminised workforce in our schools on the boys themselves, little attention has been placed on the experiences of female teachers when working in single sex male environments. It is this study’s aim to seek to understand more about what women think about working in boys’ schools.
The primary aim of this study is to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of female teachers’ experiences in boys’ schools. The study has not been driven by a hypothesis, but rather a sensitisation to a topic -a desire to recognise, explore and document the experiences of female teachers working in single sex boys’ secondary schools in Victoria, Australia and map the results against findings worldwide.
Ashley, M. and Lee, J. (2003) Women Teaching Boys: caring and working in the primary school. Stoke on Trent: Trentham. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2010). Schools, Australia, 4221.0 ABS, Canberra. Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. Sage Publications, Inc. Glaser, B. (1995). Grounded Theory 1984-1994 Volume 1 and 2. Sociology Press. Mill Valley. CA. Hartman, D. K. (1990). I Can Hardly Wait Till Monday: Women Teachers Talk About What Works for Them and for Boys, University of Newcastle, Callaghan NSW West, P. (1999b) ‘Boys’ Underachievement at School: Some Persistent problems and Some Current Research’. Issues in Educational Research, 9 (1), 33-54. West, P. (2002). Submission to House of Representative Standing Committee on Education and Training: Inquiry Into the Education of Boys. May 2002.
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