Missing Men Found Safe: Reunion with Family After Days of Searching

In educational settings, it is evident that boys and men are falling behind girls and women. On average, boys are trailing by approximately one grade level in literacy compared to girls. The disparity in college degrees between genders is more significant now than it was in 1972, despite the initial norms established by Title IX. Boys from underprivileged backgrounds, specifically Black boys and men, encounter the most significant educational obstacles. The feminist philosopher Cordelia Fine characterizes these disparities as a form of “gendered injustice.”

Addressing these gender disparities should be a central focus for policymakers. The first crucial step is to ensure the availability of gender-disaggregated data. Currently, states are not mandated to report their on-time high school graduation rates by gender, despite substantial gender gaps existing in many states, particularly affecting Black students.

To improve academic outcomes for boys, one potential strategy is to enhance the representation of male teachers in schools. Unfortunately, recent research indicates a regression in this area. According to a new research brief, only 23% of U.S. public elementary and secondary school teachers are male, a decline from 30% in 1988.

Interestingly, there are now more women working in STEM fields (26% female, up from 14% in 1980) than male teachers in school classrooms. While efforts are being made to further promote female representation in STEM, the decline in male representation in teaching remains unaddressed.

Male teachers are a minority not only in classrooms with younger children but also in high schools (Figure 1).

 

Figure 1:

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The scarcity of male teachers, particularly in subjects where boys struggle the most, such as literacy, is a significant concern. While men represent 40% of high school teachers in general, they only account for 26% of teachers in English and language arts, with physical education/health and social sciences being the subjects where most teachers are male (59% male in each). Surprisingly, women make up more than half (54%) of vocational and technical teachers.

The underrepresentation of male teachers of color is even more pronounced, with only 6% of teachers being men of color. Data depicted in Figure 2 illustrates that Black and Hispanic boys are less likely to have a teacher of the same race or ethnicity. Even white boys are disadvantaged in terms of having a teacher who matches their demographic than the least-well-represented girls.

 

Figure 2:

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Many parents and educators advocate for an increase in male teachers in classrooms. The growing trend of the teaching profession becoming predominantly female is concerning for our children and the profession as a whole.

While the impact of male teachers on narrow academic outcomes is debated, some research suggests that teacher representation, particularly for Black students, influences engagement and performance. For boys, the gender gap in middle school English could shrink significantly with a higher proportion of male English teachers. Another study indicates a halving of the gender gap in school math performance in 9th-grade classes taught by men.

Students tend to express more enthusiasm for a subject taught by a teacher of the same gender. This positive effect may be attributed to teachers setting higher expectations for, or providing more attention to, students similar to them. However, other studies do not find a strong association between teacher gender and outcomes, indicating the need for further research in this area.

Despite the academic outcomes, male teachers contribute as mentors and role models in educational settings. The dominance of female figures in education may influence boys’ perceptions of learning and teaching. Efforts are being made to attract and retain more male teachers of color through programs like the residency program in Dallas, Texas, the NYC Men Teach program in New York City, and the Call me MISTER program in South Carolina.

Substantial initiatives are required to increase male teacher representation, including offering scholarships, establishing peer support groups, conducting male-friendly outreach, and facilitating career transitions for men interested in teaching. Reversing the declining trend in the share of male teachers will be a challenging task but essential to address the gender disparities in education.

Richard V. Reeves is president of the American Institute for Boys and Men.

 

The post Missing Misters appeared first on Education Next.

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