South Africa: Gender Doesn't Matter in Teaching


Merely increasing the number of male teachers is not going to address the label (or stigma) of teaching as 'women's work'. Undoing this stigma calls for a disruption of the patriarchal discourses and norms, which perpetuate marginalisation and minimisation of women, in order to centre a male worldview.

Why are there far more women teachers than men? Research confirms that although men and women are often motivated by similar altruistic reasons, they enter the teaching profession for different reasons. Female teachers may be more motivated by the perceived intrinsic aspects of teaching, or value the ability to combine teaching with parenthood, and hence opt for the profession as their first choice.

By contrast, men may be deterred by a low salary, and the associations of teaching, especially at primary level, with mothering, and hence might opt for the profession later in their lives.

Although female teachers outnumber males across primary and high schools in the country, they are under-represented at leadership (principal) levels. In researching this Women's Day (9 August 2020) article, I looked at enrolment figures for the Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University and found that in 2020, we enrolled 809 female and 142 male students into our...

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