According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, men are less likely to seek careers in early education and some other fields traditionally associated with women, due to male gender bias in these fields.
Bias against men in the health, early education, and home (HEED) domains has been documented in previous research, and the current study sought to quantify the impact of this bias.
In an experiment with 296 online participants from the US, one group read an article that accurately described research that showed educators preferred a female primary school teacher candidate over a male candidate with the same qualifications. Another group read an article claiming gender equality in early education, and there was a control group who did not read any articles.
Boys in the group who read about male gender bias expected more discrimination early in primary education and felt less belonging, less positive, and less interest in pursuing a career in the field. Female participants were unaffected and reported similar responses across different groups.
Similar findings were obtained in an experiment with 275 students at Skidmore College. Research published on the Internet Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.
Lead researcher Corinne Moss-Racusin said that while female gender bias in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields has received a lot of public attention, male gender bias in HEED careers has been largely ignored, albeit with negative implications. , associate professor of psychology at Skidmore College.
“It’s a detriment to society if we continue to place people in gendered roles, and if we continue to navigate gender-segregated career paths, regardless of whether these jobs are traditionally associated with women or men,” he said. “It’s a powerful way to reinforce the traditional gender status quo.”
Men make up only 3% of preschool and kindergarten teachers and 13% of registered nurses in the US, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In previous research, male nurses reported higher levels of workplace bullying than female nurses. Male preschool teachers reported higher rates of discrimination than female teachers and were perceived as less amiable, less employable, and a greater safety threat to children.
Moss-Racusin said the stereotype, rooted in traditional views of motherhood, that women are more involved and naturally suited to some care-oriented occupations limits opportunities for men in these fields.
“There is no evidence that men are biologically incapable of doing this job or that men and women are naturally oriented towards different careers,” he said. “Both men and women are deterred by the gender biases they may face in different industries, which is understandable.”
Men may also be deterred by the low wages prevalent in HEED areas, which may be related to discrimination against women and the devaluation of work associated with it, Moss-Racusin said.
More hiring and mentoring of men in HEED fields could help reduce gender discrimination and lead to more men seeking careers in these fields, she said.
materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.