IHSD ECE Coach John Fernandez opens about the role of being a male in a female-dominated industry. 

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In 1994, I counted ten men in my San Jose State University Child Development graduating class of about 150. If my numbers were correct, that’s about 6.6%. I wanted to make a difference and change the status quo.

In a 2012 article from Teaching Tolerance Magazine, “According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 2.3 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers are men.” That’s about one man for every 43 women. It’s a little disheartening knowing that the number for men in Early Childhood Education has not increased. It seems that I’m swimming against the tide.

Children see this inequity. Young children are already exposed to gender roles and stereotypes when exposed to these kinds of numbers. Society is already showing us that there are jobs, roles, and careers that are “predestined” for women and men. We separate men’s roles and women’s roles without even realizing it.

It seems that I’m swimming against the tide.

Men are capable of being good and great teachers just like women are capable of being good and great CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies. We have to break gender stereotypes so that our children are inspired to make their dreams come true regardless of their gender. A teacher’s gender should not matter when that teacher teaches, inspires, enriches the mind, gives love and support to children and their families. When children and their families see an equal mix of men and women working together, we show that a diversified group of people can collaborate. We show that we can all cooperate, and we can make a world where people can walk alongside each other in a positive way.  

Abolishing stereotypes is an uphill battle. We, however, can start with ourselves.  We can become less judgmental with gender roles, and learn to accept everyone for who they are, or what they choose to be. We should encourage our children to do what they love regardless of what other people might think. At the same token, we should teach our children to see others as people who are doing their best to fulfill their own dreams. 

Abolishing stereotypes is an uphill battle. We, however, can start with ourselves.

I started at IHSD’s South San Francisco site in 2004 as a preschool teacher, then as a co-site supervisor/teacher in 2008. I moved to the San Mateo site as the site supervisor in 2014 until 2017. I am now an ECE coach, coaching teachers on improving and enhancing their teaching strategies.

I might not see a 50/50 split of women and men teachers in ECE at the moment, but I can see more fathers coming in the classroom, showing interest in their children’s day to day activities, asking about their child’s progress, and asking what else they can do for their children at home. That’s a head start!

– John Fernandez, ECE Coach