Jobs in early education and other fields affected, study finds — ScienceDaily

Men are less likely to pursue careers in early childhood education and some other fields traditionally associated with women because of male gender bias in those fields, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

Bias against males in the health, early education and domestic (HEED) fields has been documented in previous research, and the current study sought to measure the effect of this bias.

In one experiment with 296 online participants from the United States, one group read an article that accurately described research that found teachers preferred a female primary school teacher applicant over a male applicant with the same qualifications. Another group read an article that claimed there was equality in primary school, and there was a control group that did not read any article.

Men in the group who read about male gender bias expected more discrimination in early primary education and felt less belonging, less positive and less interested in pursuing a career in that field. Female participants were not affected and reported similar responses across the different groups.

An experiment with 275 students at Skidmore College had similar findings. The research was published online in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.

While female gender bias in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields has received much public attention, male gender bias in HEED careers has been largely ignored, even though it also has negative consequences, said lead researcher Corinne Moss-Racusin, PhD. , an associate professor of psychology at Skidmore College.

“It is a disservice to society if we continue to pigeonhole people into gender roles and stay the course on gendered career paths, regardless of whether those jobs are traditionally associated with women or men,” she 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 United States, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In previous research, male nurses have reported higher levels of workplace bullying than female nurses. Male primary school teachers have reported higher rates of discrimination and are perceived as less likable, less employable and a greater safety threat to children than female teachers.

Rooted in traditional views of motherhood, the stereotype that women are more caring and naturally suited to some care-oriented occupations limits the opportunities for men in these fields, Moss-Racusin said.

“There is no evidence that men are biologically incapable of doing this work, or that men and women are naturally oriented towards different careers,” she said. “Both men and women are put off by gender biases they may encounter in different industries, which is understandable.”

Men may also be deterred by the low pay typically found in HEED fields, which may be related to discrimination against women and a devaluation of work associated with them, Moss-Racusin said.

More recruitment and mentoring of men in HEED fields could help reduce gender bias and lead to more men seeking careers in these fields, she said.

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Materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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