In September 2017 around 30,000 more women than men started on university courses (source: The Guardian). This relates to all university courses, not just teaching – but when the Department of Education released school workforce statistics back in 2015, it indicated a progressive fall in the proportion of male teachers working in Britain, with just one in five teachers being men (source: The Telegraph). This was a drop from just five years earlier, when the ratio was one in four teachers.

Clearly a gender gap exists, but will understanding the underlying reasons help address it? Many suggest that stereotyping is the main reason why women are more attracted to the teaching profession, but we’ve asked some of the Connex Education recruitment leaders for their views to see whether that’s still the case.

Alex Powell, Director of Connex Education’s Cheshire branch thinks flexible working plays a key part in allowing women to adopt a better work/life balance. Teachers typically have the option to work in schools as supply teachers, which means their working pattern can be much more flexible than with other careers.

I would say that historically teaching was always a role more suited to women and the gender still dominates in both primary teaching and support roles. The general view seems to be that women are more suited to teaching younger children due to their instinctive maternal support. Women may be drawn to teaching (especially part-time teaching) because of the flexibility they potentially have with their career – Alex.

Mark Ashmore, Director of the West Midlands branch at Connex Education suggested that the greater number of female teachers was a reflection on the gender gap in applicants to universities.

In all walks of life gender stereotyping can still be fairly common and this is still apparent in education, particularly within the primary sector. One additional factor affecting the recently increased numbers of female teachers could be that about 30,000 more women go to university each year than men. That’s naturally going to have an impact on the number of women who qualify with teaching qualifications in comparison to men – Mark.

Hannah McDaid, Director of the Merseyside branch at Connex Education, mentioned that although women tend to be more prevalent, typically in the early years and primary education sectors, there is still a need for more male teachers to enter in to the profession.

The early years and primary sector is predominantly female, even right down to the office staff. Why a particular gender is more attracted to a certain job role is never clear, but some would suggest that women are perceived to be the favoured gender for early years roles, due to their nurturing instincts. However, when we let schools know that we have a male candidate available some do relish the alternative! – Hannah.

So what does all this mean? Only through ongoing campaigns like International Women’s Day, articles like this one and raising awareness about the gender imbalance in the education sector can greater balance be achieved. The underlying trend of fewer men pursuing further education will naturally mean fewer are available to study education related courses. We all have a role to play in demonstrating that education is a profession for all, and wherever possible we empower both women and men to pursue meaningful and rewarding careers in the sector.

Women in education