In Australia, male teachers make up 22 percent of all teachers providing classroom teaching in schools, and more of them wish to leave the profession due to a greater level of dissatisfaction with conditions and pay.
According to the latest workforce study from the Australian Teacher Workforce Data Report, male teachers experienced more issues with school culture and as a result were less likely to enjoy working in schools.
“Male primary teachers appear to be experiencing greater career discontent,” the report stated, with 30 percent of men teaching at the primary level who intended to leave the profession saying they felt a lack of recognition as a reason for leaving.
By comparison, just 23 percent of female primary school teachers say they felt this way.
“Alongside this career discontent, men at the primary level were more likely than women to indicate that they planned to search for a non-school role in education,” the report continued.
“Although leaders are an important part of the teaching workforce, [men] are less likely to engage in face-to-face teaching and perform fewer hours of face-to-face teaching.”
The gender disparity is most pronounced among teachers working with younger children, with just 16 percent males, and only 1 percent males in early childhood education.
The report, funded by the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership, found that despite male teachers holding a third of leadership jobs, the number of them entering teaching degrees at the tertiary level has dropped in the past few years.
The report concluded that teacher supply and university enrolments indicate a teacher shortage to replace those retiring over the next five to 10 years.
One high school teacher I spoke to believes that more granular data about those teachers surveyed in the study should be presented.
“Are they younger or older?” she questions. “On an assumption, I would have to believe that the aspirational appeal of teaching – which is to ‘change hearts and minds’ – comes up against the reality that to do teaching well requires preparation, planning, and research.”
“To give this time, in any profession, is to respect the professionalism of the workers.”
“Men may be more accustomed to having this respect in their daily lives than women, meaning that their threshold for disrespect, time pressures and unreasonable work demands is lower.”
“This will be especially true for male staff who have made mid-career changes to teaching, something the Department of Education has been encouraging.”
Robyn Evans, Head of the NSW Primary Principals Association, told Sydney Morning Herald that the only way to attract men would be to raise the salary.
“In my own school … it’s really tricky getting [male] graduates in,” she said. “Their mates – tradies and the like – earn a whole lot more money than teachers.”
“I don’t think men go into teaching because of the money,” one primary school teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, told me. “They honestly need to have that passion and love for teaching kids to want to go down that career path. They want to positively make an impact in their students’ lives.”
The report from the Australian Teacher Workforce also revealed that one in seven teachers, both male and female, hope to leave their profession over the next decade citing workload, growing red tape and poor student behaviour as reasons.
Twenty-five percent of teachers surveyed cited difficulties with student behaviour as reasons for leaving the profession.
According to the report, teachers work an average of 150 percent of their paid hours.