The implications of lack of male role models for

The
implications of lack of male role models for young men

The lack of males in the
teaching profession can be discouraging for young men in education and this is
supported by the fact that girls are now outperforming boys academically.
According to (the Guardian, 2016) “young women in the UK are 35% more likely to
attend university than young men.” This presents the question of whether female
teachers are subconsciously bias towards the girls in their class or whether it
is the lack of male role models which depict teaching as a feminine profession.
The gender of a teacher subconsciously makes you act a certain way.

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Another reason for attempting
to modify the ratio of female to male teachers is because students are better
able to identify with a teacher of the same gender. Similarly, teachers may
feel more content in teaching students whose gender they share and are better
able to encourage them. However, gender stereotypes can negatively influence
the way in which teachers perceive and therefore interact with their students and
this can be detrimental to a student’s motivation and consequently their educational
outcomes. (Steele, 1997) p. 153

However, we must acknowledge
that there has been gradual progress towards the progression of changing gender
ideals and this can be seen by the increase of gender-neutral advertisements.
Sweet (2014) revealed that in the 1970s “only 2 percent of toys were gender
specific, and advertisements commonly depicted toys in ways which were
non-conforming to gender stereotypes. Girls were presented building Lego and
boys showed playing in toy kitchens”, which would subconsciously change
children’s views of masculine and feminine job roles.

 

Intervention
Section

Robert Cialdini (2001) distinguishes
between six main laws or principles of social influence. They are the
principles of “reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking,
authority and scarcity.” Reciprocation is a principle which can be explained by
basic social rule, for example if an individual carries out a favour, we feel
obliged to return this favour out of common courtesy. Commitment and
Consistency is the second principle in which Cialdini refers to and its power
comes from our want to be firm in the decisions we have previously made in
order to avoid contradicting oneself. The third principle is social proof, and
it plays on our assumptions that others are doing it and therefore it must be
the just thing to do, and this explains why we subconsciously feel the need to
buy things that others are buying. The fourth principle is liking, which has
much to do with the relationship with the target, for example, according to
Cialdini’s research we are more likely to purchase something from someone we
know and like. The final principle is authority, which preys on our belief that
those individuals who are in positions of authority are all-knowing and
actively look out for our best interest.

 

A way to counteract societal
views on which gender is most suitable to teaching is through persuasion. If
you identify with a group eventually you internalise the values of that group
whether it is for informative reasons or for normative reasons. Therefore, to
encourage young males to aspire to be teachers, male teachers could promote
this profession at school and through university career fairs. Teachers have
the power to condition pupils to become obedient and so it is the persuasion
which is difficult as you must change one’s attitude and behaviour. Drawing on
Cialdini’s concept of “authority” because male teachers are in a position of
power their audience is likely to value their opinion highly and believe that
it is in their own best interest to act on their advice. The student-teacher
relationship is also important as this is in line with Cialdini’s fourth
principle of “liking”. However, in terms of “commitment and consistency”, it is
difficult to encourage an individual to go back on their word as it can be seen
to be contradictory. The principle of “social proof” should come into play if
there is an increase in the amount of young males who would consider a career
in teaching as a result of this intervention.

Psychology can help us to
understand that the attitudes which we form over a period of time can be
influenced by many different factors such as our culture, the groups we associate
with, our relationships and what stage of our lives we are in. Mere exposure to one’s attitude is not enough and so an
individual must actively participate. In order to form an attitude which is
lasting it should be reinforced and one should be exposed to this idea through
social modelling. With a change in attitude, a change in the individual’s
behaviour should follow.

As male teachers do not want
to be the source of an unpopular message as they may suffer from a loss of
likeability, they may consequently gain credibility. Credibility is more
enduring as you can regain likeability more easily. Certain characteristics will
make individuals more impressionable and likely to conform for example, 18-25
year olds are considered most impressionable and so this is considered a peak
time for reshaping beliefs. However, those individuals who are more intelligent
have a higher self-esteem and are therefore less likely to conform.

To conclude, one of the
influences contributing to the majority of the women in the UK being teachers
is the assumption that the teaching occupation is better suited to women as
they presumably possess the maternal instinct which are needed to nurture and
to teach. For young males coming from lone-parent families, who are at the most
impressionable stage of their lives, Coulter (1993, p.399) proposed that “male
teachers may serve as role models for boys and father substitutes for children
from female-headed, lone-parent families.” However, there is no empirical
evidence to support that those boys who have experienced having male teachers
encounter fewer issues in their school experience or that they rely on male
teachers more than those boys coming from homes with father figures.

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