Teaching programs still lean heavily to female students
COLUMBIA - Fewer and fewer young people are pursuing a degree in education, especially young men. According to a study done by the Chronicle of Education, the number of young people pursuing a degree in education is the lowest it has been in nearly 50 years. The U.S. Department of Education reports that in 2016, 77% of public school teachers were female, an increase from previous years. When asked to describe his experience at the MU College of Education, freshman Logan Manes said he definitely notices the lack of males in the room.
"In one education class, I'm one of two men in a class of fifteen people," Manes said. "In another, there are close to 35 people and maybe single digits are men. It doesn't bother me, per se, but I notice it."
According to John Lannin, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the MU College of Education, 80% of students enrolled in the education program are female and only 20% are male.
"It varies considerably based on the certification students have chosen," Lannin said. "For secondary and higher education, it's closer to a 50/50 ratio. In elementary education, 5% or below are male."
Lannin attributes the lack of male figures in education to a number of things, including pay and opportunities within the education field, but mostly to a lack of role models for young children.
"Students are growing up in grades 1, 2 and 3 and are not seeing males teaching their classes so they aren't thinking of that as a potential career."
Manes agrees, saying,"When younger children don't see male teachers, they don't think to become teachers. When they think about what you want to do when you grow up, they think about what they've seen. They see cops, they see firemen, stuff like that, and they don't see teachers."
Manes said he was fortunate as a child, going to an elementary school he described as having "several male teachers," allowing him to consider the profession at a younger age.
"I had some really great science teachers and it was a mix of men and women," Manes said. "I chose this profession because these people made it exciting. They made it fun and I wanted to be able to do that. I wanted to be able to give younger people the opportunities that I had and the excitement."
Lannin said the phenomenon of education being predominantly female is not a new one, but the percent of female teachers has increased in recent decades.
"In the 1970s and 1980s, about two-thirds of the teaching workforce in the United States was female," Lannin said. "In the 90s, it was up to 70%. Now it's closer to 75%."
Lannin said he recognizes there is a trend of less people pursuing a career in the education field.
"Overall, there's definitely a trend down," Lannin said. "However, our enrollment at the junior level, when people are accepted into the college of education formally, our numbers have actually gone up in the past few years."
Lannin also said the demographics of people pursuing careers in education are changing.
"We have a lot more students from out of state, more from different backgrounds," Lannin said.
Lannin said the next step for educators is to diversify the workforce and encourage more male teachers and teachers of color to enter the field.