According to a study posted by the American Psychological Association, men are less likely to pursue careers in early education and other spheres traditionally connected with women due to male gender bias in these fields.
Bias against men in healthcare, early education and domestic sectors (HEED) has been reported in research before, and the current study attempts to measure the influence of this bias.
There has been an experiment involving 296 online participants from the US. One group read an article detailing the study that stated educators preferred a female elementary school teacher candidate over a male candidate with the same qualifications. Another group read an article that confirmed gender equality in elementary school, and the third control group did not read any articles.
The men in the group that learned about male gender bias expected more discrimination in early education and expressed less sense of belonging, were less positive and interested in a job in this sphere.
The men in the group that learned about male gender bias expected more discrimination in early education and expressed less sense of belonging, were less positive and interested in a job in this sphere. Female participants were unaffected and gave similar responses in the different groups.
Another experiment involved 275 students at Skidmore College and provided similar results. The study was posted online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.
Whereas the female gender bias in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) has been mainly public, the male gender bias in HEED jobs has been nearly ignored, although there are also negative implications, reported lead researcher Corinne Moss-Racusin, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Skidmore College.
According to Moss-Racusin, it hurts society when we sustain gender roles and keep gender-specific career paths, no matter whether those jobs are traditional for women or men. "It's a powerful way to reinforce the traditional gender status quo."
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, men make up just 3% of preschool and kindergarten teachers and 13% of registered nurses in the US. In previous research, male nurses indicated higher levels of workplace bullying than female nurses. Male elementary school teachers also have reported higher discrimination and are perceived as less likable, less hirable and a greater threat to children's safety than female teachers.
The stereotype that women are more loving and naturally predisposed to some caring careers goes back to traditional views on motherhood and restrains opportunities for men in these spheres, Moss-Racusin claimed.
"There is no evidence that men are biologically incapable of doing this job, or that men and women are inherently set up for different careers," she said. Both men and women are put off by the gender biases they can face in different fields, which is understandable. However, men may also be put off by lower salary rates in HEED, which may be connected to discrimination against women and devaluation of their work.
More recruiting and mentoring of men in HEED careers may help reduce gender bias and encourage more men to apply for jobs in this sphere.