Our aims

We have four main objectives:

  1. To explore the extent and nature of efforts to recruit and support male practitioners, and their impact
  2. To consider how the value of men’s presence is attributed, and what theories (explicit and implicit) are articulated to support, refute or undermine (consciously or otherwise) the recruitment of men
  3. To identify barriers to male recruitment; map men’s routes into ECE; understand their motivations and strategies they may have used, if required, to overcome barriers; and identify what support is needed to enable male employees to flourish and remain in the ECE profession
  4. Based on the evidence above, to develop a workable and explicit theoretical framework to rationalise the value of including men within the ECE workforce; and create accessible training and resources to support and strengthen efforts to make the sector more gender-diverse and gender-sensitive.

We also wish to:

  • Explore what impacts a mixed gender workforce has on all participants in an ECE setting (children, staff, managers, parents), including any additional potential to challenge children’s own gender-stereotypical beliefs.
  • Gain insights into how gender mediates the division of labour in ECE staff teams, and into public and practitioner fears regarding this non-traditional work.
  • Develop specific workable strategies to harness opportunities for young children to question gender stereotypes and engage in playful performances of gender which allow for transgression of traditional norms.
  • Provide rich learning experiences for the many professionals reached through the project, who will have the opportunity to engage with academics to develop a theoretical rationale for the recruitment, retention and support of men in ECE.

Man with children playing together

Overall, we want the success of the project to be evaluated against our ability to develop a new body of knowledge about practices, perspectives and rationales relating to the gender diversification of the ECE workforce. We aim to translate this evidence-informed knowledge into workable strategies that could enable the ECE workforce to become more gender-diverse and gender-sensitive, supported by a robust theoretical framework setting out why this matters.