A new report says new strategies are needed to attract more men to the teaching profession.
The ‘Why Choose Teaching’ report – released by the Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Learning Sciences Institute Australia (LSIA) was based on the largest-ever survey of teachers in Queensland about why they chose to teach.
The report, which surveyed 1,165 teachers, recommends “identifying aspiring teachers while they are still at high school and fostering their ambition”.
The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show that 53% of people who hold a teaching degree do not currently work in education. Meanwhile, there has been a meagre 1% rise in teacher numbers over the past five years.
One key finding from the latest report was that male teachers rated subject specialisation and leadership opportunities higher than their female counterparts did as to why they chose to join the profession.
In terms of the top three motivators behind choosing the profession, respondents cited ‘intrinsic career value’, ‘teaching ability’ and ‘shaping the future of children and adolescents’.
Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) director, John Ryan, said the report will assist employers to attract the best possible teachers.
“Teaching is important for the nation’s future social and economic development, so it’s critical to understand what attracts people to the profession,” Ryan said.
LSIA Director Professor, Claire Wyatt-Smith, said the report is the first large-scale study to provide quantitative and qualitative data on the factors that influenced practising teachers to take up teaching as a career of choice.
“It provides some answers to vexed questions about how to target recruitment more effectively,” Professor Wyatt-Smith said.
“This is undoubtedly important at a time when student numbers are expected to rise and a teacher shortage is anticipated.”
ACU associate professor, Dr Philip Riley, told The Educator that while the reasons behind a lack of male teachers vary, the combination of a rise in contract employment and the perception of teaching as a gendered role are major contributing factors.
“The rise of contract employment means people are thinking twice about both entering and staying in teaching,” Riley told The Educator.
“The more a profession is perceived as gendered the more it becomes so. When jobs – such as nursing – are seen as predominantly female they tend to become devalued and low status which affects men more than women.
“Teaching is seen as predominantly female”.
Riley, who leads the Australian Principal Health and Well-Being Survey, said that “teacher bashing” in the media is also an issue.
“When added to the other factors, this means you need to be very keen to enter,” Riley said.