Not a week passes without another facebook post describing reactions to men working in early years settings, from parents, prospective parents or members of the public. Here is yesterday’s latest entry –
“Lots of new parents in at the moment for September, all good. One today going through paper work talking through student consent, to be asked ‘are there any male students?’ To which I reply no, but there may well be, is this an issue ? To be told, ‘no but I would not want a male changing my daughters nappy!’ I asked her – if you had a little boy would you like a male practitioner changing him? She said yes and then realised her thinking was a bit off.”
I read another post a couple of weeks back where a member of the public had alerted the manager of a nursery to the fact that there was a male pervert in her nursery garden taking photographs of the children. The manager pointed out that he actually worked there and that it was part of his duties, to which the lady responded, ‘don’t give me that, I know what his sort are like!’ Another setting was reported to Ofsted anonymously because they had a man working for them.
“The great British public’s” attitudes aren’t improving much, are they? Rather than wringing our hands in despair, we need to be realistic about the situation, to understand the issues and look at positive means of changing the culture. We need to promote positive images and testimonials in the media. Listen to the inspiring podcasts on our conference page. I have been so encouraged by the individual stories. Join the many settings across the country who have made visible their commitment to the national charter on our home page by downloading, printing, signing and displaying it.
I am thankful for our female colleagues who stand up to support us in the face of bigotry and uninformed, media influenced paranoia about all men and their questionable motives. We are not going to change public opinion overnight but we are determined to continue our campaign to slowly influence our collective thinking. Today Southampton, tomorrow the World!
Following the success of the first national Men in Early Years conference in February 2016, we have convened a national Men in Early Years summit meeting to be hosted by London Early Years Foundation in October. Get in touch if you would like an invitation. We’d love you to be part of the movement.