We know that children building relationships with both male and female members of staff is key to the development of each and every child.

Within the Early Years sector, men still make up only three per cent of the workforce, and this is why we campaign for men in childcare.

male staff and children enjoying a provocation

Men as role models

Currently, just three per cent of the Early Years workforce nationally are men – and many of these are in maintenance roles, rather than senior practitioners.

At LEYF, nearly nine per cent of our workforce is male.

We need men to be role models for both boys and girls, and for women to be role models too, otherwise we are limiting children’s life chances and choices.

male staff using instruments with a baby

Our research

We carried out research into the role and importance of men in childcare in 2019, including talking to children about their views of the staff who work with them. Our research found that the children didn’t choose staff to do certain activities based on their gender, but by who they considered to be ‘good at’ that activity.

Earlier research by LEYF in 2012 showed children had a preference for female teachers reading to them, but the research from 2019 showed a shift, with children saying that both male and female teachers read to them.

Female teachers were mentioned as being good at playing trains, superheroes and playing with the cars – even in nurseries with male staff.

The report found that: If teachers are to cultivate gender diversity across the sector, children must see a diverse society reflected in their nurseries, which means a balance of high quality male and female teachers who are able to be ‘good at’ activities which may initially have been perceived to be gendered.

If teachers are to cultivate gender diversity across the sector, children must see a diverse society reflected in their nurseries.

So, ultimately, all staff will learn to plait hair, pick up worms, fix broken equipment or crawl under a bush in the garden and become more conscious of their unconscious bias.

Children need high quality teachers, male and female, who are able to be ‘good at’ activities which may be perceived to be gendered.

The report continued: Children need to see both male and female teachers engaging in activities, particularly those where there is a perception of being a girls’ or boys’ activity.

Download our report

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