Figures Released: The concerning gender gap in teaching

Newly released figures show that there is a much higher percentage of female teachers than male teachers. 

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency has released new stats that show men are now very outnumbered in the workplace compared to past years.  

The overall number of full-time teachers from 2018/19 to 2021/22 has increased from 18,338.4 to 19,363.4. This jump in data shows that the interest in teaching is more and more prominent in Northern Ireland. However, with this rise comes the decline of male teachers.  

In the 2021/22 data, it can be seen that 100% of nursery teachers in Northern Ireland are female, and in Primary schools, this is lowered to 84.4%.  

Compared to the NISRA statistics in 2018/19 this is a rise. Men were actually more prominent in schools back in 2018/19. The data shows that in Primary schools females only accounted for 84.3% compared to the 84.4% in 2021/22.  

This notable percentage difference in the teachers’ genders could therefore impact how schools are viewed by their pupils and parents.  

Rachel Gamble, a classroom assistant at a Belfast Primary School, said: “There is a really noticeable imbalance. This is the second school I have worked at and the female teachers always outweigh the male”.  

She continued: “The school I work at is fairly large with 2-3 teachers per year group and only a small handful of them are actually men. In fact, every single classroom assistant that we have is female”.  

When asked if she noticed the imbalance in her daily life, she said: “I know so may female primary school teachers, personally. However, I don’t know that many male teachers”.  

When asked why she thinks this is the case for schools, Rachel responded: It’s probably because women are socialised into being that nurturing, caring type. We are taught from a young age that we are supposed to care for children and take on that maternal role, so we end up adapting that to our profession”.  

Rachel went on to address her own personal choice to work in education, by saying: “Essentially, I like working with kids because society has trained me to. Men aren’t encouraged in that way. The structure in the education system is the same one that society places on families”.  

While there is a significantly less number of men in the educational workplace, the NISRA statistics also show that from the male teachers that are present, they tend to be more prominent in the later stages of education rather than the early stages.  

This is shown by the fact that the female teachers in grammar and non- grammar schools reduce to just over 60 and 70% in both 2018/19 and 2021/22. This clearly represents that men are more likely to be there for older years of education.  

Rachel shared that she believes this is the case in most education establishments: “Any of the male teachers I know are all in the upper school years. This means they aren’t dealing with the younger kids, and aren’t nurturing them or teaching them basic facts. Instead, they’re dealing with the transfer tests and advanced learning.  

She continued: “This could be in part because there is a stigma or bias surrounding men working with young kids. Women are taught to be the nurturing ones in society and so it makes sense to some people that it should be women who want to deal with young children”.  

Primary school teacher, Oran Darragh, believes that: “The role of a teacher goes far beyond English and Maths”.  

Explaining, he continues: “There is a pastoral element, where you teach your class ethics, morals and values. Men should be encouraged more to follow a career into teaching as you could provide the turning point in a child’s life”.  

This lack of male teachers in the education establishments has a direct impact on the nurturing that male students therefore receive.  

If children, particularly young boys are lacking that male influence on their lives then they could be facing a wider  

Primary school teacher, Oran Darragh, says: “there has always been a severe lack of male teachers in schools – particularly primary schools. It was my female teachers that inspired me to become a primary school teacher”.  

Oran continued to say that he feels: “that the lack of male teachers in Northern Ireland is becoming a growing concern”.  

Continuing to express how important it is to have a male influence growing up, Oran said: “I have experienced first hand the importance of being a male role model to children. Whether it’s having a chat with them, kicking a ball with them or just listening and giving them your time. That impact can be life changing”.  

It’s evident from the data, that the lack of male teachers in Northern Ireland is increasing over the years.