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Clegg: Lack of men in childcare denies young children role models

November 25, 2008 12:53 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Too few men are working in childcare because of the stigma attached to men working with young children, Nick Clegg has said in a speech to the Daycare Trust.

In a speech to the Daycare Trust about the vital importance of early years care, Nick Clegg will argue that the lack of men in the childcare workforce denies young children, especially those from single parent families, a mixture of role models.

Men make up just 2% of early years childcare staff and only 1% of childminders. Advocating recruitment drives aimed at men, Nick Clegg will speak about his own experience as a father.

In his speech, Nick Clegg said:

"There is still a huge stigma attached to men wanting to work in childcare. Even just for men who want to take a more hands-on role in providing care for their own children.

"I remember well when I first arrived at Westminster the strange looks I would get when I would miss a drink in the Commons bar so that I could put the kids to bed.

"For men wanting to actually work in the field, the social disapproval, even hostility, that they often feel is a huge deterrent.

"The Daycare Trust's own research shows that one in four men would consider working in childcare. Sadly some worry that their motives would be viewed with suspicion.

"Of those who have done it, some say the only way they were accepted was by being seen as 'honorary women', rather than as men with perfectly legitimate and important contributions to make.

"Women have worked long and hard to get into professions that they were kept out of for years. And they are still working at it, that fight isn't over; the pay gap proves it.

"But we must extend the fight to include equal rights for men in the professions where they are excluded.

"Children need a mixture of role models. And for the one million lone parent families in this country, a male presence in the childcare environment can be hugely positive."