Gender Issues - Men in Childcare

Gender Issues in Care Work in
Claire Cameron and Peter Moss
Thomas Coram Research Unit,
Institute of Education, University of
Care Work in Europe
• EC funded 2001 - 2005
• 6 Partners
– Denmark, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden
and UK
• Main objective
– to contribute to the development of good quality
employment in care work in services that are
responsive to needs of changing societies
Doing the study
Mapping the care workforce; surveying use and demand for
care services; reviewing literature on quality, job satisfaction
and gender issues
2. Three cross-national case studies of work:
with young children (HU, DK, SP);
with older people (SW, ENG, SP + HU);
with adults with severe disabilities (DK, NE, SW)
Development of video-based method for cross-national
study of practice in care work (SOPHOS)
3. Innovative practice (36 examples); dissemination
Profile of care workers
• Highly gendered (% women highest with children
and elderly)
• Mostly 25-44 (like total workforce) - but no
information on % with own care responsibilities
• Often (not always) low paid
• Mostly specialist
• Career prospects usually limited – vertically and
The Danish pedagogue
High level of education
Less gendered – 25% male in some services
Better pay (and other conditions)
Generalist - work with people from 0 to 100; main
worker with children, young people and younger
• Broad career prospects - vertical and horizontal
Gender of care workers
• LFS for DK, ES, SE & UK: between 86% and
99% of workers with elderly people and with very
young children are women.
• More male workers with older children and adults
• Very few with elderly people or very young
• Same pattern but higher proportion of male
workers in Denmark – up to ¼
Male workers in CWE
• Case study of work with young children
2/36 (2 DK, 0 HU, 0 ES)
• Case study with people with severe
disabilities 12/43 (6 DK, 2 SE, 4 N)
• Case study of work with elderly people
12/54 (5 SE, 4 EN, 3 ES)
National policies
• England: target of 6% as part of childcare
diversity targets – dropped in favour of
‘more diversity’
• Norway: target of 20% preschool teachers
recently reaffirmed
• Local initiatives in Belgium, Scotland,
England, Norway, Denmark
• Low salaries are not attractive to men?
• Care work is ‘naturally’ ‘women’s work’?
• Education and employment assume women
students and workers
What do care workers
say about gender issues?
A matter of choice for clients/ service users
A matter of assisting women workers
A matter of gender equality in workplaces
A matter of improving/challenging the kind
of ‘care’ on offer
A matter of choice
• For elderly people and their personal care
• To extend the repertoire of conversation to
include ‘male’ interests
• For people with disabilities to meet and be
together, to have staff role models of btoh
A matter of assisting women
• Looking after technical equipment
• Using their physical strength to lift, or deal
with confused or aggressive people
A matter of gender
equality in workplaces
• Longstanding discourse of equality in DK,
• Also a matter of diversity – more minority
ethnic workers needed too
Barriers to change?
• Male care workers are ‘unmanly’
• Female workers are ‘natural’
• Care work does not pay enough for a family
• No specific strategies to promote male workers
in elder care or adult care
A matter of recognizing
• Men have a higher threshold
• Men do something else
• Men have a different kind of energy
• Adjust the way work is done
• It’s great. I think we should have men.
They do something else. When I play
football with the boys, which I seldom do
because it doesn’t interest me, I find it
hard. So it’s completely different when X
[male assistant] does it. He’s a big joker.
There’s no one can make a fire like him.
You can get sissy fires, but his fires are
definitely macho ones.
I imagine it could be quite horrible (to be the only male
worker)…We are supposed to have two so that at
least they can keep each other company a little…But
we are also women and the way we try and work
around that is by also taking on some of those things.
By me climbing trees too. Well, the last time we went
out in the woods, about 14 days ago, we were out to
catch tadpoles. Well didn’t I crawl out on to the tree
trunk out over the lake!…I suddenly noticed a very
quiet audience of children at the [lake] edge. I think
that they simply began to feel nervous because, if I fell
in, what would happen to them?
A matter of following
• Men are more business like, women deal in
Or perhaps
• Men who go into care work are different?
• They cite their professional competencies
• They have ‘soft’ values – need to be caring,
are ‘special people’
A matter of individual
• Adult security more important than gender
• You cannot generalize about men and
women – need to be versatile and an allrounder
What changes can be made?
• Sustained, funded localised initiatives seem
to be working
• Ask not what keeps women in but what
keeps men out?
• Adjust organisation and content of training
programmes, re-examine content of work,
local networks to avoid isolation
Further Reading
• Cameron, C., Moss, P and Owen, C. (1999) Men in the
Nursery: Gender and caring work, Paul Chapman
• Care work in Europe website
• Briefing paper
• Introducing pedagogy into the children’s workforce
• Rolfe, H. (2005) Men in Childcare: