Efforts to get more male teachers failing
The number of male teachers in New Zealand schools continues to decline despite the Ministry of Education's attempts to fix the gender imbalance.
In the past 10 years the number of male teachers in both primary and secondary schools has dropped. Last year men made up only 16.5 per cent of primary school teachers and 41.2 per cent at high schools.
In 2006 it was reported that male teachers featured prominently in recruitment campaigns as the ministry "tried to redress the gender imbalance in the teaching workforce", according to a ministry senior manager at the time.
Male role models continued to be actively promoted in marketing materials produced by the ministry, which was aware of the gender disparity, the ministry's head of student achievement, Graham Stoop, said.
In 2003 a report released by the New Zealand Educational Institute revealed in the 10 years to 2001, the number of women primary teachers had increased by 13 per cent while the number of male teachers fell by 9 per cent.
As a result, principals from primary and secondary schools called on the ministry to provide scholarships for male teachers as an incentive to get more joining the profession.
Rotorua principal and former Secondary Principals' Association president Patrick Walsh recalled the drive for scholarships but said a decision by the Human Rights Commission halted the initiative.
He said despite male teachers being in a minority, scholarships were only available for women, disabled people and those from varying ethnic backgrounds.
The commission had said it would be unlawful to offer male-only scholarships.
"Male teachers in schools at the time were quite surprised but because of the unlawfulness, nothing has been done since," he said.
At the time, the number of male teachers continued to drop.
New data showed many children could get to high school without having a male role model in their lives because of growing numbers from single-parent households, Walsh said.
"The ministry would say gender doesn't matter and it's about quality, but gender does matter. Boys learn differently, particularly in areas like maths and science, and a good male teacher can really help with that."
Wellington geography teacher Callum Brookes said he was surprised the number of male teachers was still declining and agreed it was important for young people to have positive male role models in their lives.
"I don't know though that incentivising teaching for males works because in order to be a good teacher you have to genuinely love the job and want to do it," he said.
New Zealand currently had more teachers than teaching roles, which had been the situation for a number of years, Stoop said.
The ministry planned to address gender disparity in the teaching workforce "but will always do so within the law and will work with the Human Rights Commission, where appropriate, to ensure this happens".
The proportion of women to men in teaching at primary and secondary level in New Zealand was similar to other OECD countries, Stoop said.
- The Dominion Post