Diversity in Early Childhood Education

As a sector that represents and supports all families, we are constantly called upon to advocate for equity. With Harmony Day on 21 March, we reflected upon diversity within our organisation, which is traditionally almost exclusively female. I would like to take this opportunity to explain how my views intersects with our service philosophy and my requirements under Australian Law for Equal Opportunity and Antidiscrimination. As you have probably gathered, I am a strong advocate for gender equality.

At 360 Early Education we employ male, female, transgender and gender-neutral staff. Men and women are employed in all levels of the organisation, including in infant caregiving, preschool leadership, and executive management positions. Roles are not allocated by gender, and gender has no bearing on performance or relationships.

Your children see female staff using tools, doing woodwork, driving a bus, turning over the sand in the sand pit and you will see male educators feeding, settling, nappy changing, engaging with, and taking great care with the babies in our services.

All educators take equal responsibility for cleaning, laundry and taking out the garbage at the service. We all take equal responsibility for caring for and educating the children in our services.

We really are an amazing microcosm of what gender equity can look like and I am very proud to be able to offer this to the children whom we care for. I am delighted to see that the children in our services enact whatever role play and dress up that they should see fit with no concern for gender.

I delight to see our boys rocking baby dolls to sleep, expressing creativity through the arts, and dancing in brightly coloured costumes. I delight in our girls engaging in rough and tumble play, riding bikes, hammering nails and deeply considering math’s and engineering in block corner. This gender-neutral play is alive and well in our service because it is modelled to your children every day by the educators at 360.

Currently men represent a global average of 3% of educators within the early childhood education workforce. Variations in the amount of male early childhood educators across countries directly reflect the way that early childhood education is valued, both politically and socially, and in the differing representation of gender roles and values on gender equality.

At 360 we are proud to support the pursuit of more male early childhood educators within Australia. We currently employ 8 males across our two services (10% of overall employees), so we punch far above our weight for recruitment and retention. Some of the benefits and contributions that male early childhood educators offer to the well-being of children and the industry include:

  • Understanding that people are different, and gender does not define personality.
  • Makes fathers feel more welcome and encourages them to be more involved
  • Reflects changing social climate that aligns with legislative advances in paternity leave
  • Challenges the stereotypes of masculinity by promoting alternative images that shift away from harmful, aggressive and unemotional personas, which are often promoted within the media.
  • Reinforces the notion that caring is a human response that both genders are capable of.

Children benefit from having a wide range of role-models as they grow and learn, therefore if the industry remains female dominated then children have the potential to miss out on unique and invaluable contributions that can only be afforded through diversity.