Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on May 30, 2011 in Life | 11 comments

Irish Childcare: Where are the men?

Irish Childcare: Where are the men?

Photo source: Leo Reynolds

Although we are very happy with Little Man’s creche, one thing that Charlie and I really feel it is lacking is a male presence. For 8-10 hours a day on the days he is in childcare, Little Man is in a solely female environment. There are no male childcare workers there. And this is not a phenomenon that’s exclusive to one particular creche. When we were looking for suitable childcare, not one of the facilities we looked at seemed to employ male childcare workers. But of course that shouldn’t be surprising. According to an article called Men in Childcare in the Irish Independent on May 28, 2009, fewer than 1% of childcare workers in Ireland are male.In our home life, we have made a real effort to ensure that Little Man is raised by both of us. We each take one day a week of parental leave, and then for three days a week he’s in childcare. It’s a good compromise for us, and we feel it means he gets the best of both worlds. He has the socialisation of a daycare setting, and he has his weekends with both parents and one day with each parent during the week. We know that we each bring different things to the table when it comes to our parenting. Charlie has a different parenting style to me – different, but equally valid.

And yet, outside of the home, for the next ten years at least, we can expect that the majority of people who will be involved in caring for and educating Little Man will be female. And I can go even further than that and say with a reasonable amount of certainty that in the next five years, they will all be female. After all, there’s less than a 1% chance I’ll be wrong about that.

What impact does this have on our children? What message does it send them? What is the long term effect on our children of having no male role models in caregiving roles outside the home?

Small children learn as much from their observations of the world as they do from the official lessons we teach them. And in their experiences of early childcare and early school years, they learn that looking after children is women’s work. That women are the caring ones in their lives. And that men don’t do this kind of thing. But we all know that’s not true. In reality, more and more Dads are becoming the primary caregivers in the home; more couples are making similar choices to ours and recognising that we can each take advantage of our parental leave allowance and take a strong role in caring for our children.

In many ways, I can understand why men are reluctant to take on a role as a childcare professional. I don’t for one minute believe it’s because men don’t love children or enjoy looking after them. I think it’s the fear of being accused of abusing a child. More than that, I think it’s a response to a pervasive feeling in society that men can’t be trusted with children. Well the truth is that some men can’t be trusted with children. But some women can’t either!

I think it’s very sad that our children miss out on a male influence for the vast majority of their time in childcare and early education outside of the home. And when I hear news reports year after year, explaining how our school system is failing our boys, how they are falling further and further behind, I have to wonder if the situation could be improved if boys had more male role models within the education system. Would there be more of a drive to cater for a broader range of learning styles and needs in our schools if more of the teachers were men? Of course I can’t say for sure that it would make a difference, but I suspect it would.


  1. We are lucky now to have a male manager in our Creche who is hands on. He plants veggies takes the kids on nature trails and is a real father figure for our almost 4 year old. The only thing is that historically mothers were primary caregivers and the men brought home the bacon. Times have changed and my hubby is defo pulling his weight even though I am on mat leave. I fully agree that the balance is not there ps sorry if I am rambling Lisa just after 2 glasses of wine

  2. Don’t think it did you or your brothers any harm to have a stay at home mother and a father who worked a 12 hour day.

    • That’s a bit misleading don’t you think? Because he did shift-work, Dad was actually around 20 days out of every 30 in the month, so we had a very strong male influence growing up, and in fact, I think we benefited hugely from having both a stay-at-home mother and a father who was around a lot.

      I also don’t really think you can compare a single-gender situation with a stay-at-home parent to a single-gender situation because there is only one gender employed in the creche, daycare, or school.

  3. I am currently doing a Child Care course and there is 2 men studying it too. Apparently they get paid more than us too!

  4. I am currently completing a Child Care course there are also two young men on this course and we’ve been told quite frankly that they will be looking at better paid positions then the women when they’re done as it’s such a female dominated field. I think it’s a good sign that young men are starting to enter the field. Maybe it’s a hopeful sign for the future.

  5. Should people with a Higher qualification in childcare be paid more than people with a Fetac Level 5?

  6. I am a male doing a childcare course. im really enjoying it and looking forward to being able to break into the workforce

  7. I am a male currently training to work in the sector (Doing my level 5) and I feel that it is not fair that males are expected not to go for this kind of a job as it is a female dominated field.

  8. I am currently doing a Level 5 childcare course. There is two men currently doing the course aswel and they are very interested in it.

  9. I am currently in a level 5 Childcare course and there is two males in it! I was surprised at first to see men in it but they are genuinely interested and personally I feel a male leader In the childcare setting would be very beneficial for the children’s sake as all children both have a male and female influence so why not in there childcare setting?

  10. I feel the childcare sector should have both male and female workers. I am currently completing my Childcare course and there are two male students in my class. The childcare sector should be equally for male and female in my opinion. The pay should be the same for both genders.

%d bloggers like this: