We have four main objectives:
- To explore the extent and nature of efforts to recruit and support male practitioners, and their impact
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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.