Men in Early Care and Education: Leadership Statement

by Nick Terrones, United States; Ron Blatz, Canada; Jerry Parr, United States; Craig d’Arcy, Australia; Don Piburn, United States; Kenny Spence, Scotland; Henry Manani, Kenya

Leadership requires a strong understanding and ownership of one’s identity: grounded in courage, confidence, and unfettered willingness to engage in collaboration. Leadership is rooted in relationships, and the belief that healthy relationships are reciprocal. Astute leaders promote challenge, change, and celebrate differences. They nurture and respect the diversity of those they lead, while maintaining their own values and identities.

However, what can happen to leadership if there is an absence of diversity? We currently live in times of the most significant change to gender role expectations, and the single most effective tool to encourage global gender equality is to change societal expectations, beginning at the youngest ages. Young children continue to be cared for and educated by an almost exclusively single gender early care and education workforce. Like shining little mirrors, children reflect back what they see in us.

It is the Men in Early Care and Education Working Group’s perspective that a single gender teacher and early years workforce serves to undermine the principles of self- determination, equal opportunity, and social justice. We have witnessed a similar issue in countries that limit girls’ and women’s access to education or employment opportunities — where educators are all male OR as is the case in western societies where early educators are almost exclusively female. It is clear that gender on its own is not the issue; rather it is whenever and wherever there is an imbalance that does not re ect the population and culture, harm happens. In the case of the early years workforce, it is the absolute right of children to have both men and women be their teachers.

It is important for the lives of children that we make progress in this area, and it should be done in the most public and transparent leadership arenas. This projects a very clear message that gender equality and workforce balance is what all young children can and must expect.