Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor

Gender Imbalance in Teaching Can Be Fixed

June 11, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

In reading your article “Despite a Downturn, Few Men Attracted to Teaching Field” (May 9, 2012), I was left with the impression that the gender imbalance in teaching was a function of choice, that teachers’ low salaries and status anxiety turned men away. While the historic imbalance of men, particularly men of color, in the teaching profession is an ongoing challenge, the article’s conclusions do an injustice to the myriad social factors influencing career decisions among young men.

If we want to address this imbalance, we need to accept that the problem is one of structural inequity rather than individual behavior. For instance, we know that in summer and after-school programs, there are thousands of black and Hispanic men who are hired as counselors, instructors, and tutors every year. Low salaries and long days define these positions, and yet they are filled annually. But as the data show, few of these men become teachers.

At Breakthrough Collaborative, we recruit and train hundreds of college and high school students as summer teachers in more than 25 cities across the country. Though the application process is rigorous and highly selective, thousands of exceedingly motivated budding educators apply each year. Over the past four years, 35 percent of our teacher population has been composed of men, and 56 percent of those were men of color.

What does this mean? It means that these young men are out there, and that they are choosing to teach their younger peers. We should be celebrating them—not bemoaning their decisions. We need to create more opportunities to help them translate these formative experiences into teaching as a profession. They need more support, greater resources, and better training.

The challenge is in creating programs to reach out to talented men who are interested in, or already are, teaching. The problem is not with scarcity.

Lior Ipp

National Executive Director

Breakthrough Collaborative

San Francisco, Calif.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the June 13, 2012 edition of Education Week as Gender Imbalance in Teaching Can Be Fixed


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Strategies for Incorporating SEL into Curriculum
Empower students to thrive. Learn how to integrate powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies into the classroom.
Content provided by Be GLAD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession The NEA Faces an Unexpected Labor Adversary—Its Own Staff Union
Staff for the nation’s largest teachers’ union picketed at its Washington headquarters Thursday, striking for the first time in decades.
3 min read
Staff of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, strike outside the organization's building in Washington on June 20, 2024. The staff union alleges that the NEA violated labor law.
Staff from the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, protest outside the organization's building in Washington, D.C., on June 20, 2024.
Stephen Sawchuk/Education Week
Teaching Profession Teachers Report Lower Pay, More Stress Than Workers in Other Fields
It's yet another warning sign for the beleaguered profession.
4 min read
Teacher working on scheduling at desk.
Teaching Profession Teachers Are Pushing for Paid Parental Leave. How It's Going
Efforts to implement paid parental leave policies are slowly gaining traction, with teachers often advocating on their own behalf.
7 min read
Image of a pregnant person at work.