Drive aims to entice men into childcare


AN INITIATIVE has been launched to encourage more men into the early childhood care and education sector in Ireland which has the lowest representation of male workers in Europe, writes Michelle McDonagh.

The Men in Childcare (MIC) Network (Ireland) launched its new DVD, The Face of Men in Irish Childcare, in Cork as part of its effort to increase the representation of men in what they say is a very rewarding sector.

Chairman of the MIC Network, Mick Kenny, said one of the factors responsible for the low number of men involved in the early years profession was the relative invisibility of the men doing this work.

He said: "The DVD is part of our effort to increase the visibility of men working in the early childhood care and education sector and to highlight the positive element that men can bring."

The DVD showcases the work of six men in different childcare settings and aims to raise awareness of the role that men can play in this sector. It was launched by Prof Frances Douglas, UCC, Ireland's first professor of Early Childhood Studies.

Mr Kenny, who is co-ordinator of the Urlingford Community Childcare Network, points out that many children in childcare have no contact with men between 8am and 5pm every day. He and his fellow network members believe children benefit from a gender-balanced care setting and that the inclusion of trained male childcare workers could undo a tremendous amount of negative stereotyping about men and their abilities to care for children.

He had been working in childcare for 16 years, but didn't met another man working in the sector until he attended a Men In Childcare conference in Kilkenny in 2002 out of which the MIC Network was established.