Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sex ratio of teachers

In John Derbyshire's We Are Doomed (which I've enjoyed immensely thus far, especially the chapter on human nature), the Derb writes (p113):

The main problem with our public elementary schools is that they are feminized. The male elementary-school teacher is an endangered species, largely because of the child-molestation hysteria that seized the public imagination a decade or two ago, documented in Dorothy Rabinowitz's 2003 book No Crueler Tyrannies. A man who wants to teach small children is nowadays under suspicion of being a pervert.
Unfortunately, occupational coding in the GSS only extends back to about the time when this cloud of suspicion allegedly descended over aspiring male primary school teachers. The following table shows the percentage of male K-8 teachers, by range of years. Sample sizes among primary schoolers are comfortably over 100 for each range:

PrimaryMale %

For the last two decades, women have steadily outnumbered men among primary school teachers by more than 6 to 1.

This is in sharp contrast to the sex ratio among college and university instuctors, where men outnumber women 56% to 44%. The sex ratio among high school teachers is halfway between the two, with women outnumbering men 2 to 1 (66.1% to 33.9%).

It's difficult to quantifiably gauge how much more (or less, I suppose) desirable a balanced sex ratio among teachers in primary education would be for boys, or how female overrepresentation, rather than larger PC culture, influences curricula towards greater feminity (more emphasis on suffering, less on achievement; more on how war affects those touched by it, less on the military specifics of those wars; more group projects, fewer individual assignments, etc).

I had women throughout elementary school. My three favorite teachers in middle and high school were all men. Two of those were in honors classes and thus intellectually stimulating, and all three were in subjects I enjoyed, so these things might be skewing my perceptions. Yet my conscious affection for them largely arose because they engaged me whenever I offered opinionated and often 'contrarian' views (that I'm sure were idiotic at least as often as they were insightful) rather than discouraging me from deviating from the lesson plan. That men are more fond of argumentation and less concerned with uniformed consensus seems a plausible explanation for why boys might benefit from having more male teachers, in addition to their obviously being more virile than women are.

I've not read Rabinowitz' book and so am not acquainted with the evidence of child molestation hysteria deterring men from teaching careers, but suspect that trying to push more men into elementary school classrooms will be about as effective as trying to push more women into the non-biological hard sciences. Men simply don't enjoy watching over a pack of prepubescent kids who require elevated levels of patience and nurturing as much as women do. It's not in our genes. In this regard, it's probably not totally unwarranted to be a little more wary of pedophilia in aspiring male elementary school teachers than in men on the whole.

GSS variables used: OCC80(113-154)(155-156)(157), YEAR, SEX


The Undiscovered Jew said...

Like you, I didn't get a lot of intellectual stimulation in primary school (this was in the 90's).

On the other hand, I don't recall a great deal of feminist indoctrination either in primary school.

Didn't you have a post that showed how female grade school teachers were more conservative/Republican than women as a whole?

expeedee said...

I have been ranting about this problem, which I referred to as "The Feminization of the American Educational System" for the last twenty years.

Dedicated and well-meaning women, along with a lot help from liberal men (often administrators) have created a soft, egalitarian environment in public schools where everyone is considered equally capable, equally intelligent and equally talented.

This egalitarianism pretty much did away with competition and physically active learning that boys need and thrive on and replaced it with a ritalin-induced educational coma, especially in the sciences.

Boys are required to behave like girls and to learn like girls. Well, it doesn't work. Boys have more energy, need competition and physicality when leaning, as they simply learn differently than girls. This could be the reason that boys are so overrepresented in special education.

Jokah Macpherson said...

"Men simply don't enjoy watching over a pack of prepubescent kids who require elevated levels of patience and nurturing as much as women do."

I think this is right on target. My experience is that teachers of either sex generally have to be passionate about their curriculum at any level to be really good. This is why all the coaches at my high school (with one notable exception) were pretty terrible. They were just there to collect a paycheck so they could do what they really wanted to do: coach. Since it is unlikely that a man's passion is going to be elementary subjects like multiplication tables and reading (specifically, reading the boring egalatarian stories that fill elementary school textbooks), you are left with only nurturing, for which our sex tends to have less of a drive.

Stopped Clock said...

Im going to have to come down as a skeptic on this one. Havent lower grades always been taught mostly or entirely by women? I thought liberalism was associated with an increase in male elementary teachers, personally. Even the Boy Scouts, considered a tool of patriarchal oppression by some liberals, usually has "den mothers" rather than "den fathers" for the younger troops. Traditional Catholic schools were always taught by nuns, I believe.

it's probably true that female teachers are less likely to be able to handle a class full of misbehaving boys with ADHD, but that's a "boy" problem, not a "woman" problem, so I don't think blaming the women teachers is a good idea, and besides, addind more male teachers would just push the problem onto the girl students. Stricter discipline in general might also be a good thing, though I hesitate because I feel almost like I'm supporting it just because "the liberals" don't.

As for pedophiles, maybe a little hysteria is a good thing, so long as it is focused on everyone, not just male teachers, because the impression I get (admittedly totally unscientific; Im just reading news reports) is that the majority of pedophile teachers are women.

Stopped Clock said...

I tried to find some data to back that up, because I know Ive read it somewhere on the Internet, but all I can find is info about Catholic priests.

Thursday said...

I am rather surprised at Derb. There is nothing wrong with having women take care of small children. It has ever been thus, and for a supposed conservative to suggest such an "improvement" is ridiculous.

Besides, from my own experience, after subbing in elementary/middle school for a few days I start to feel emasculated. And I'm the kind of guy who _likes_ kids. Most guys, confronted with a large group of small fry every day, would go insane. No wonder they avoid it.

The real problem is the growing imbalance among high school teachers. Female HS teachers are at the forefront of the PC indoctrination machine and their increasing presence does not bode well for the future

Anonymous said...

The problem is not that women are teaching kids. Obviously, that's always been the case. But the women have changed. I would suggest that a growing proportion of women are unfit to "teach" children, especially young boys. Of course, the same is probably true of men in general but I would guess that they are less likely to mistreat boys. And add into that the fact that fewer and fewer children have a stable, functioning family and it is mostly boys who are deprived of a same-sex parent.

Of course there's no question in my mind that this is all a feature rather than a bug.

Stopped Clock said... (and no, Im not just posting this 'cause it was a black guy, Im posting it to give evidence of how the problem of pedophile teachers is very real)

Anonymous said...

The worst part of many female MS/HS teachers is their yackety yack overly verbose teaching style. They fill the entire class with the sound of their voice and then assign a mountain of crappy, boring, repetitive homework that you have to do by yourself when there is no one to ask a question. All the male teachers I had, but, to be fair some of the females too, would spend half of the class with the lesson and give you some time to work in class. So, when you didn't understand the assignment, you could ask before you left. Just anecdote.

Audacious Epigone said...


Here is the post you are referring to.


Are men better at allowing "boys to be boys" than women are? I would guess having kids of their own would better prepare them for the behavioral patterns of elementary school boys.


Yes, those are my sentiments. Few grown men like the idea of spending several hours a day in charge of a classroom full of kids who are not their own.


I was under the impression that teaching (outside of the university) has historically been the domain of women, although I don't have much more than popular culture and references to go on, so I could be off the mark.


Do you know if there has been a significant shifting in the gender ratio among high school teachers during recent times? For the last few decades, it's stayed steady among primary educators, but the GSS data do not extend as far backwards as would be optimal.

Thursday said...

I keep getting told by other secondary teachers that the profession has been becoming more and more female, but don't have any data to back that up.

Anonymous said...

this sucks

g, less on achievement; more on how war affects those touched by it, less on the military specifics of those wars; more group projects, fewer individual assignments, etc).

RIAZ UDDIN said...

Male primary teachers are desperately needed in primary schools. The job however, can be perceived as one not suitable for men. This perception is outdated and inaccurate and puts a lot of potentially great Male Primary Teachers off from joining the profession.