A male primary school teacher from inner-eastern suburbs of Melbourne is urging more men to give teaching a go to even up the ratio of men and women in schoolrooms.
Mitch Davis, 23, said two key factors influenced him in becoming a primary school teacher, one being his involvement in sports coaching as a teenager and the second were two influential teachers he had in his schooling life.
And despite the lack of male colleagues in the job, Mr Davis finds joy in teaching and the benefits of being a fatherly figure to young kids.
The stigma of low pay is a contributing factor, but Mr Davis believes more males are needed in the industry for the benefit of children.
“I think that overall teaching is a rewarding job,” Mr Davis said. “There are always moments where you feel positive about your role in having an impact on a student and that reminds me why I chose to teach.
“There is a lot of pushing through the hard and frustrating moments to get to that light bulb moment though.”
Mr Davis graduated from a Bachelor of Primary Education which took him four years to complete. He said throughout his degree, males were always the minority and it was now reflected accordingly in the workplace.
He believes there is a demand for males in primary schools and one of the key reasons which stands out to him is some students that need a male role model in their lives that may not be provided in their home life.
But he acknowledges that male teachers face significant challenges.
“I think that the fact males with children can be so scrutinised with children generally could be off-putting. Female teachers are comfortable hugging students that are hurt and crying, or staying in with one or two to eat their lunch.
“As a male teacher, the only physical contact I allow is high fives, and I ensure that I am never left alone in a room with a student.”
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According to ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority), a total of 34,116 males were employed in all Primary Schools across Australia, heavily outnumbered by 164,201 females in 2015.
A spokesperson from the Department of Education and Training also confirmed there was a very one-sided ratio between female to male teachers in Primary Schools.
“In 2016 male teachers made up 18 per cent of primary school teachers while females made up 82 per cent,” the spokesperson said.
“This leads to a ratio of male to female teachers of 2:9, for example there were nine female primary school teachers for every two male primary school teachers in 2016.”
Mr Davis also believes the mothering factor also plays a part in the fact that Primary School teaching attracts a lot of females.
And from his point of view, realistically it would be difficult to draw in more males.
“I think that also the fact that Primary School can range from foundation (five-year-olds) is off-putting because they require much more nurturing and are fairly that would often be associated with a female mothering figure,” Mr Davis conceded.
“I’m not sure that there is a lever that anyone could pull to attract more males into teaching. Unfortunately. I think it is difficult to change the politics of schools because of the characters that are usually drawn to teaching. Most teachers are quite outspoken and like to do things their way.”
Mr Davis also feels the one-sided ratio itself can become off-putting for males.
He added: “I think that for teaching to become an attractive profession for males, there would need to be a massive shift on teaching in general and the role of a primary school teacher.”