Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I am a sir and not a ma'am!

It makes me smile every time a pupil calls me “ma’am”. I can’t blame them because 90 percent of the teachers in the school are women (5 out of 50). Teaching in the grade school is a woman’s domain and male teachers are still a novelty among the pupils proof of this is that more often than not I am called a ma’am than a sir.

I have often wondered why this is so. Why it is that the teaching profession both in the elementary and the secondary is dominated by women. Is there some sort of sexist or feminist or whatever factor that could be attributed to this phenomenon?

Since the Philippine’s educational system is patterned after the American system it is only logical to look at bits of American history of education in search of explanations.

The Americans drew most of its teachers from its population of young women during the early part of the mid-nineteenth. Though this may seemed like a sort of liberation and recognition for the feminine gender for equality and economic emancipation and may even taken as recognition of women’s role in the shaping of the American society, but actually the reason why the US Department of Education seek out women as teachers was economical and may even be exploitative.  

 Since the beginning of the organization of the US public educational system one of the issues that challenged them was the cost of employing teachers. One of the solutions was the employment of women. Women teachers were paid less than their male counterpart and because of this disparity in compensation it became policy to recruit teachers from the female population.Add to it the fact that women did not have the right to vote during those times so they did not have representation.

Also women there were stereotypes for women that made them fit for teaching. These stereotypes were, of course, looking at today’s situation is already outmoded and could even be considered as misconceptions. They were the ff:

  1. Women have the maternal instinct hence the patience and the affection in teaching children.
  2. They are more focused and less ambitious.
  3. The children have a more fully developed sense of affection hence women teachers hold the key to their whole being.
  4. So, the generalization is that women have the capacity to influence children through their emotions. (J.K. Conway)
  Though teaching became women’s domain still the policies adapted were against them. Aside from the disparity in salary, the opportunities for promotions were also denied from them; it is seven time more likely for a male to be promoted to administrative and curriculum administrators.

 Anyway, all these things are now history since generally speaking the gender issues in education is now a thing of the past.

I therefore conclude that the reason why most of our teachers are women is that the American brought the trend with them. In Europe, from what I read, majority of the elementary school teachers are men because they have a different philosophy about employing men.

Just wondering.

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