Top Tips for Recruiting Men into the Childcare Workforce

7 February 2009

We know that men are interested in the caring professions, but many are discouraged by the low wages, concerns regarding paedophiles, and their perception of it being a female working environment.

In 2005, the Equal Opportunities Commission found that 25% of adult males and a similar number of secondary school boys would be interested in employment in childcare – yet almost no careers advice in this area is made available to them.

In order to challenge the assumptions currently held by men, and women, it is necessary to take affirming actions; these could include:

1) Think about where adverts are being placed to recruit new staff. Go to where the men are – the publications they read, including online. Create consciousness among Job Centre Plus staff that you are looking for male workers; and search where fathers are found – perhaps local nurseries and Children’s Centres will hand out flyers. Youth work may be a good recruitment area, as many males are employed there.

2) In your recruitment materials, include positive case studies from men already in the workforce. Include statements that make clear that men are equally well suited to this work as women; and describe what men can contribute. Include endorsements from service users who have had contact from a male worker; and research findings, such as those from the Brunel University Business School which recorded that men in caring careers believe they get more respect and more challenging roles than their female counterparts; and that, in schools, they often carve out a unique niche, developing male-friendly activities that are highly valued. One teacher reported: "With all children, being a bloke gets you a lot more kudos."

3) Promote job security and the long term career opportunities of posts, not just the starting salary.

4) Include in the recruitment materials photographs of men working in the jobs being advertised.

5) Ensure the written materials use the terms men and women, rather than just candidates or parents. Gender neutral statements may be assumed by men to be referring just to women. Men will respond better to information that confirms they are included.

6) Make a clear statement about the CRB checking process, but also make a statement that if people have other convictions from the past these must be declared but will not automatically result in candidates being excluded as consideration will be given to the nature of the offence, how long ago it was committed and the person’s subsequent record. Men are statistically more likely to have convictions during their youth and may exclude themselves despite having become responsible citizens and fathers.

6) Consider the initial point of contact for candidates. If there is a contact person for more advice try to offer a male contact, or both a male and female contact.

7) Review the interview panel. Good practice is to always have a panel that is gender balanced and includes a male representative on all panels.

8) Think about the location and atmosphere for the interviews and in the working environment. Is there any evidence that this is a male friendly setting? Are there posters and pictures of fathers and men working with children; not just mothers and female workers? The Fatherhood Institute publishes posters and photopacks that can help you promote the importance of fathers and father figures, with your staff and service users. 

9) When men are appointed into posts in predominantly female environments consider whether there is additional support that could make the appointment more likely to succeed: induction that addresses isolation and the concerns of men, buddying arrangements, men’s groups etc. Also ensure that female staff are helped to welcome male colleagues.

10) Ensure that professional development opportunities and training are offered and that these are male inclusive.

11) Consider the ethnicity dimension in recruiting men from a range of communities into the workforce. This will need to take account of the different perspectives on the role of men, the images and messages that are used to portray men working with children and where adverts are placed regarding vacancies etc.

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