My two year old has been at nursery on an almost-full-time basis for 6 months. Before that she spent 4 days a week with two childminders. It wasn't until this week that it suddenly occurred to me that every single member of staff at my daughter's nursery is female (including back office staff).
This worries me. I'm sure it worries me more than most because I am a female who quite honestly prefers the company of males. I work in a team of only males – my career choice dictates that. As far back as I can remember, perhaps even as far as 3 years old, my closest friends have always been male. And I guess that's why it concerns me that Lara has little contact with adult males other than her own father and her two grandfathers.
Does it worry you that your children, from a young age, are brought up in a world where the people of authority are ordinarily female? Or does it comfort you?
In pre-school childcare I have found it very unusual to see any male staff. I can understand that it might not be the most appealing choice of career for many young men but my husband suggests that the reason is not the lack of interest from male staff, but more the lack of enthusiasm from parents themselves. My husband strongly believes that most parents (male or female) would feel uncomfortable leaving their child at nursery with a male member of staff, or a male childminder.
Is that really true?
In the UK there are plenty of male school teachers (admittedly far fewer than female teachers, especially at primary school level). Do parents feel the same fear dropping their child at school?
Where does the fear come from?
Is the fear of male childcare staff born from the lack of males in the profession? If there were more male staff, would people be more open to the idea? Perhaps the expectation is on female childcare staff because traditionally mums would stay at home to nurse their children and therefore female childcare is considered more 'natural'? In a world where mums and dads are increasingly sharing the responsibility for childcare, is this still a valid stereotype?
For me, I know I would love it if Lara had the chance to spend time with more male staff who had been through the same rigorous governmental checks and training that her current nursery staff have.