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Head of the Class

Scott Galloway@profgalloway

Published on August 18, 2023

This week on No Mercy No Malice, we’re featuring a guest post from Richard Reeves. Richard, a writer and a scholar whose work focuses on what I believe are pressing issues, has become my Yoda regarding the conversation concerning failing young men. We hosted Richard on the Prof G Pod last fall, and it was our most-listened-to episode. He’s a blue-flame thinker who combines data-driven insights with empathy and a perspective. You can hear from him regularly via his substack, Of Boys and Men. His 2022 book, Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It, is a landmark book on the topic.

Head of the Class

by Richard Reeves

My favorite high school teacher was Mr. Wyatt. He taught English, mostly poetry and Shakespeare. He was also a Korean War veteran, a part-time bus driver, and a curmudgeon. I loved him. And because of him, I also came to love reading and writing. It’s no exaggeration to say that he changed my life.

Mr. Wyatt was living proof that masculinity and literacy could go together. To a 15-year-old boy, that really mattered. Seems I’m not alone in this regard. In the U.K., where I grew up, 1 in 2 men say a male teacher was an important role model. Ask the men in your lives about the educator who had the biggest impact on them; most will name a man.

But my own sons had fewer opportunities to connect with a male teacher, for the simple reason that there are many fewer of them around. In 1980 men accounted for 33% of K-12 teachers in the U.S. Today it’s down to 23%.

If the male share had remained at 1980 levels, we would have an extra 400,000 men teaching in our schools. (That’s more than the total number of teachers in California.) The male share is set to drop even further unless something’s done about it: In the 2019-20 school year, only 18% of education majors in college were men.

Each year, the National Center on Education Statistics publishes a report blandly titled “Characteristics of Public School Teachers” showing the steadily falling share of male teachers. Each year, it fails to get any serious attention from either the media or policymakers.

If the share of women was declining in a major profession, it would, quite rightly, generate headlines. There is lots of concern, for example, about the lack of women in the tech industry. Among the workers at the big five companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft — only 31% are women. That 31% may well be too low a share of women in Big Tech, but it’s a lot higher than the 23% share of men in education. The lack of women in tech is often described as an existential crisis, while the lack of men in schools merits barely a mention.

Male teachers are especially scarce in the early years. Only 3% of pre-K and kindergarten teachers are men. In fact, as a share of their professions, there are twice as many women flying U.S. military planes as there are men teaching kindergarten.

“It takes some degree either of social ignorance or of personal courage for a man to enter teaching at the elementary school level,” noted education professor George Brown. For a man to teach young children, he wrote, “is to spit in the face of a strong societal stereotype.” That was in 1960. Today I’d wager the stigma is, if anything, even greater.

My own son, who teaches at the elementary level, has faced stigma and suspicion. A man who wants to work with children is seen as, well, weird. This is a vicious cycle. The more scarce men become in teaching, the weirder a decision to enter the profession will seem. My fear is that we are close to a tipping point, where, almost by definition, non-weird men will think twice about choosing teaching as a career option. (My son, for the record, is not weird.)

“If this trend continues, we may see a day when 8 of 10 teachers will be female,” wrote Richard Ingersoll and his colleagues in a 2018 report from the University of Pennsylvania (one of the very few attempts to draw attention to this crisis). “Given the importance of teachers as role models, and even as surrogate parents for some students, certainly some will see this trend as a problem and a policy concern.”

I do think it is a problem and a policy concern. The emptying out of men from our schools is bad news for at least three reasons.

First, having a male teacher improves educational outcomes, especially in certain subjects like English (where boys are lagging furthest behind girls). One study suggests that If half the English teachers in middle schools were men the achievement gap in reading between girls and boys would fall by approximately a third — a massive effect. (Important note: the performance of girls in English doesn’t seem to be affected by teacher gender.)

But it turns out that English, where male teachers might have the biggest classroom impact, is the subject men are least likely to teach. Men account for just 1 in 10 middle school English teachers.

Second, male teachers are much more likely to take on after-school activities, especially coaching sports teams. A recent Brookings study finds a gender pay gap among K-12 teachers of about $2,200 a year in favor of men. The difference in base pay is just $700 a year. Most of the gap, about $1,200 a year, is explained by the extra pay men get from doing extracurricular work.

The researchers write about this as a problem to be solved. Which it is, if the only thing we’re worried about is the gender pay gap. But if male teachers are working extra hours to coach their students on the soccer field or debate stage, and getting paid for it, I’m more inclined to clap than wring my hands.

The role of coaches in the lives of many students is close to a sacred one in our culture. This is especially true for boys without dads. And there are more of those all the time. Since 1980, the share of children being raised by a single mom has risen from 18% to 24%.

So: More homes without dads and more classrooms without misters. That’s a bad combination.

Third, the men in our schools are mentors to both male and female students. A recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that having an informal mentor in high school improved educational performance across a range of measures; most impressive was a 9% increase in college attendance.

But one finding in the paper did not get much attention. Men make up 59% of high school mentors, even though they account for only 40% of high school teachers. So male teachers are stepping up in a big way to mentor both boys and girls.

The term “teacher” doesn’t get close to describing the impact of the men and the women working in our school system. But it does a particular disservice to male teachers, who are even more likely than their female colleagues to provide coaching and mentoring to their students.

In short: Male teachers rock. So, how do we get more of them? Here are five suggestions:

1. Increase wages. K-12 teacher pay has been essentially flat, in real terms, for at least a decade. According to the National Education Association, in 2019 almost two-thirds of school districts offered a starting salary below $40,000 a year. The low salaries are especially offputting to men. (Caveat: The teachers who should get the most money are the good ones and/or those working with the poorest students.)

2. Double extra-duty pay. Teachers who stay late to run clubs or coach sports should not just be rewarded, they should be doubly rewarded. Extracurricular activities provide students with precious opportunities, especially for kids from poorer backgrounds, and there’s a growing class gap in access to after-school sports.

3. Scholarships. Generous college scholarships ought to be available to men who want to pursue education as a career, especially in crucial subjects like English. This is not a radical idea: After all, there are thousands of college scholarships for women seeking to enter traditionally male fields, including STEM.

4. Celebrate misters. School districts, counties and states should support and fund the creation of male teacher learning networks, award “Male Mentor of the Year” prizes, and plaster the faces of successful male teachers across billboards. Remember the line that feminists taught us: You can’t be it if you can’t see it.

5. Set a 1 in 3 target. Last but not least, let’s set some concrete goals. How about we aim for the same share of male teachers as when Ronald Reagan was first elected? That means at least 1 in 3 teachers should be male. School districts, states, teacher training colleges, and the Department of Education should set this 1 in 3 share as an explicit goal and publish annual progress reports. The Biden Administration has a Million Women Into Construction Initiative. California awards $25 million a year in grants toward the same end. Great! Where are the equivalent initiatives and investments to get Men Into Education?

Unless we act quickly, there will be fewer and fewer men in our classrooms every passing year. If policymakers don’t think that’s a problem, they should explain why not. If they think it is a problem, they should do something about it.

Richard Reeves



  1. Antonio says:

    Enough with the social engineering. Enough with affirmative action and anything that resembles that. Force feeding things into the system doesn’t work and only makes people bitter against each other. This makes them focus in their differences instead of just accepting them and disregarding if you are male, female, white, black or whatever trivial difference our politicians and “social warriors” want to make bigger.

  2. RWZiegler says:

    Why not do something like what is/was done to get doctors in rural areas? Pay for the education on the basis that the person will teach in a particular area for xx year after graduation. Worked for docs!

  3. Connor says:

    Thanks for covering this issue, Scott and Richard. I really think that this could be a watershed issue for men and boys advocacy. People have a hard time taking men’s issues seriously. I don’t know, there seems to be something ingrained that prevents people from having sympathy for men. But people do have sympathy for boys. And then the data clearly show the huge gap in educational outcomes between boys and girls, today. I think this is an issue that you could get people to believe in. And once people can imagine a single scenario where *maybe* it’s the women in the privileged position and *maybe* it’s the boys who are excluded, who need a boost via some sort of diversity program…when people can imagine a single scenario like this, maybe they’ll be able to see all the other areas of society where it’s actually men that have the disadvantage (I think the world of health care might come in here…) and FINALLY the gender equality discussion might have some balance, and programs that help men will lose their taboo.

  4. Timothy Buchanan says:

    An important view of the need for more male teachers. Recently I was ask by a fellow classmate who were my favorite teachers at our high school? I immediately named two male teachers one taught Current Events and the other taught Senior Government , but most significant was the English teacher I wanted through junior high and senior high. He was fabulous but I was transferred out of his senior class after one day. I regret not sicking my father on the administration. I taught twenty-seven years of high school English. The last seven at a continuation school where I was the weird father-teacher. It was a gas.

  5. Guilherme says:

    Give man and women a choice to work on whichever area they want and they will follow their preferences, rather than filling out the so called “gaps” as the article suggests. Man and woman can have any profession – as long as their life conditions allow – and still men will go towards sciences and engineering related topics, while women will go towards health and education, as scandinavia has been showing!

  6. Shef says:

    This is one of the more sexist pieces I’ve read in ages! Women were shut out of the professions that you mentioned and highly discriminated against. Men are opting out of going into teaching in part because of the bullshit propaganda that it’s not a manly profession. In addition, it’s jaw dropping to me that you advocate for paying the profession more TO ATTRACT MORE MEN! You should pay teachers more because they are doing amazing work, and being asked to go over and above in myriad ways (e.g. let’s ask our teachers to protect our kids in school instead of passing sensible gun legislation). Teachers have been advocating for better pay for years – where were you then? Male teachers should be equally celebrated and yes, we need more male role models for young people, but the framing of this piece is so completely tone deaf. I’m disappointed that SG allowed this to be published.

    • Justin says:

      That is false. Women were not shut out of tech, and in fact, they’re dominating certain areas of tech like agency and publisher sales. More technical roles may have catered to men, but much has been done the last decade to address the gap, exactly what the author has mentioned. We’re never going to achieve a perfect balance in any profession, but addressing a gap that is caused by stigma is a worthy cause, regardless of gender or another stereotype.

  7. Lorraine Kessler says:

    Brave! True: “More homes without dads and more classrooms without misters. That’s a bad combination.”

  8. Michael Cain says:

    I respect the author in all of the work they have done on the subject, and the suggestions provided here are indeed, noble. However, where does the money come from? It is very easy and convenient to say “spend more money on important things“. School districts are funded by property, taxes, and the school districts that need the best teachers can least afford to pay them. Hell, they can’t even afford decent textbooks. So if you’re going to offer up the solutions that require dump trucks full of money, it would behoove you to elucidate us as to where you think the money should come from

    • Jim says:

      Stop military spending. There…. done.

    • Lena B. says:

      Change the funding mechanism. Property taxes mean wealthy areas get more, poor areas less. That’s inherently unequal, especially if you believe that education is a route out of poverty.

  9. Yun says:

    The male role model is extremely critical in today’s school setting. We are way short of it and thank you for the writing!!

  10. Lisa says:

    Boys and young men are being failed by society. I got to remember when I hear this that it’s not someone blaming women. (Or at least, to consider fairly whether it is or isn’t, I do have reason to get on the defensive about it.) Girls and women and others are also being failed too, and it’s not taboo to mention that. And the elderly. It’s kinda a crappy system all around except for grinding people down to make smooth workers for the sort of jobs that don’t exist anymore, then disposing of ’em.

  11. Jennifer Fink says:

    One over-looked, not-mentioned reason why “male teachers are much more likely to take on after-school activities, especially coaching sports teams” and “Men make up 59% of high school mentors, even though they account for only 40% of high school teachers”: Most of these male teachers have female partners who are handling the bulk of parenting/household duties at home. One (big!) reason female teachers are less likely to take on these extra responsibilities at school is b/c they’re already doing them at home.

  12. Bill Farmer says:

    Much bigger problem is overall decline in teacher quality, an unintended consequence of expansion of women’s opportunities. Two generations ago and more the best that most smart women could aspire to was to teach. All us old folks remember great teachers who were almost always women.

  13. Hoot says:

    Very informative, great perspective.

  14. Adam Leavitt says:

    Generally I agree with your views on the lost male youth situation but this is just patriarchal bullshit.

    • James Hagarty says:

      “I agree with you” and “this is bullshit”.

      Cognitive Dissonance much?

      • NA says:

        Ahhhh… the lost art of reading. Let me help. GENERALLY he agrees on the positions that prof G advocates for… but this PARTICULAR article is patriarchal bullshit.

    • Ned Blinick says:

      I would really like to understand what makes this “patriachal” bullshit. Without any context this is a a gratuitous criticism and doesn’t add anything to the conversation.

    • Paul West says:

      What a ignorant statement! Your wife must have told you to say this, girly guy!

    • Taryn says:

      Adam, we are all eagerly awaiting some context for your comment!👀

  15. Petar S says:

    The one thing the article doesn’t talk about — and don’t like having to bring politics into play — is that the teachers unions are almost 100% pro Democrat. That likely reflects a lot about the policies and priorities of the unions and teaching institutions. Over 54% of men voted Republican in 2020. It isn’t much of a leap to think that non Democratic men are likely to feel out of place in the teaching profession.

    • Tchr says:

      The union isn’t the boogeyman people are led to believe. Here are things unions DON’T do.

      It’s incredible how the AFT president got trashed when the org asked for mitigations when the CDC was creating its school building reopening guidelines. Meanwhile, people don’t talk about the Delta CEO begging the powers that be for quarantine time be reduced from 10 to 5 days.

      Guess who got their way? The Delta CEO.

  16. Antony T. says:

    The only way out of this American male crisis is to do what SG did;
    Move your life and your sons to the UK or another country where I live,
    where the culture is NOT antagonistic and outright hostile to the original sinner the American Adam.
    Scott, I’m not raising my son there either. Not the same country I grew up in. No country for old men and no country for young men.
    And no ignoramus clown will ever make himself- Not America- great.
    A lot of women and people wanna blame their woes on this white patriarchy beginning with the horible slave-owning ( except Hamilton) Founding Fathers.
    Be careful what you wish for ladies and people or whatever pronouns you prefer.
    You may not like what you get.
    When will this blame game stop? Your guess is as good as mine.

  17. Dean. S says:

    Elementary teacher here (now Principal). I see this playing out in Canada as well, very similar. Like Prof. G., male role models in school transformed my life. A key issue here is that as the field of education becomes increasingly dominated by women, education finds itself under greater and greater attack by successive governments. Sadly, men in the field may be needed for more than just positive impacts on male students.

  18. Frank Inserra says:

    I would just like to echo the importance of teachers as role models to young people. The best provide an early, if not the first, non-blood adult sounding board for youth. I found my role models in both male and female teachers, but, as a boy, there was something special about the best male teachers. Perhaps, as a boy, it was easier for me to see myself as them and in them.

  19. Ken goldman says:

    Real issue. Need to pay more for good teachers but can’t do with the way the unions work today. Inditement to them

    • Tchr says:

      The Value-Added Measurements (VAM) ratings, which are algorithms that determine teacher pay by students’ test scores, have been pushed and enacted by Republicans and CENTRIST/MODERATE Democrats, including the Obama administration, for the past 20 years. This was supposed to reward the “good” teachers and incentivize the others to improve their work. Reformers have essentially had their way in many respects in the past 20 years.

      How has that worked out? People are STILL complaining about the quality of K-12 education and the teacher shortage has only gotten worse.

  20. Trip Westcott says:

    I was a male teacher grade 3 through college . 42 years total; most of it in middle school . In the beginning you have to prove your worth , to students , parents and several administrators . After 5 years you can feel free. There are many who set up road blocks, they may be a student, next door teacher, or an administrator. Over coming these is the most stressful part of the job . I was most at ease with the kids especially the wise guys. Running an after school wrestling or boxing program for middle school boys boosted my popularity beyond the academic only teachers . In teaching there is a money issue . There are almost as many administrators, and secretaries making much more than the teachers . However there is also an intrinsic fulfillment in the profession . Some prospective teachers now fear “woke issues.” No big deal , roll with it. Many men teachers fear false accusations from young girls. I was lucky to avoid that tar pit but some men could not. Read the 1792 Salem Witch trials to see what 4 wailing girls can do . I believe that if you truly enjoy your subject matter and you can tolerate some abuse it is still a rewarding profession . If a teacher can demonstrate enthusiasm and complete mastery for his field it spills over . He or she does become a mentor or an influencer for many students.

  21. JOHN S. says:

    The definition of a first world problem.

  22. Alyssa says:

    A similar pattern seems to be unfolding in the medical field
    More and more physicians are and will be women
    Physician income will continue to decline
    Men will gravitate towards high income fields of clinical medicine or healthcare administration
    Sound familiar?

  23. Antony T says:

    You’re barking up the wrong tree guys.
    Superintendents will never give men a chance much less extra pay for after school activities?? Good luck with that.
    Young men have to stop looking at male role models- this isn’t Dead Poets Society- Robin Williams or Andrew Tate.
    They have to DIY. Empathetic, intellectual respected work/life savvy men don’t have to be weird.
    There in the books the movies or mostly peers.
    The guys just have to seek them out.

  24. Joel Gardner says:

    I can’t think of a single male teacher at the secondary level who had an ounce of positive impact on me. Quite the opposite, in fact. The first male educator who stimulated me intellectually was a professor, Jean Jacques Chevalier, at the Sciences Po in Paris my junior year of college as an exchange student.

    • Deborah Biber says:

      Very interesting article. So many pros and cons to what you say. I went to an all girls school with only women teachers and I remember some of them fondly. Primary school had male teachers but cant remember one of them or their names so not much impact there.
      Rather, the concept of all one gender over the other is what needs to change. I’d rather teaching not become a velvet ghetto for women either. The outcome of this is always lower pay and lower esteem. So policy needs to address that.

      • David says:

        Open up the field in my state. Allow college educated men to become teachers, stop requiring masters degrees in “education”. Psychology and English and others should suffice. I have a friend with a PhD in English and he’s not credentialed to teach at the high school level.

        Part of this problem is regulation, part of it is the teachers union, part of it is cultural dissentegration, part of it is corporatization mentality.

        I totally agree with the author. But there are so many variables. It’s the same issue as pushing women into the police, except 100% more consequential. There are good reasons women are not police- sexual dimorphism being one.

        ELON MUSK RULES Galloway is a baby who has other people write his newsletter.

  25. Ramos-Glew, Kevin says:

    Thank you so much for this. Fortunately, both my parents encouraged me to follow my strength and interest, and I found myself running towards education. That said, as a young male graduate from college, I had a number of adults in my life think it was strange to pursue a career in education—and some even hinted that it was a waste of my education and skills. I never can understand how using one’s education to further advance education would ever be a waste. How can investing in the very thing that you don’t want to waste be a bad idea? I am now in my third decade of education, these days at the college level, and I feel that the direct impact and connection with students is invaluable. And I encourage students to be sure to express this to teachers sooner than later. That is, not waiting until their 10 year reunion. Thank you for sharing this and I will be passing this on to everyone I know.

  26. Zave Shapiro says:

    Teachers’ pay is only one way our schools are being starved; the loss of music and art programs, of basic laboratories and shops are also affected. Teachers end up “teaching to the test”, a meager substitute for education. Boys are deeply affected because they get no break; to teach boys, I believe, you have to send them outdoors every two hours with the instructions “run around, scream, bump into each other”. When they come back in and sit down I’m confident that attention will be high and fidgeting low. Bring back recess.

  27. Anonymous says:

    A much simpler and better solution is to restore the patriarchy. Let people lean into their biology. Let women be caregivers and let men be hunters/protectors/coaches.

  28. Mark P says:

    The chart that shows the ratio of men and women by grade level is instructive. The higher you go, the more the percentage of males increases; by the time you reach post-secondary, there are slightly more males than females.

    Part of this may have something to do with why people go into teaching in the first place, and it’s usually one of two reasons: either you like working with young people, or you love the subject matter you’re teaching. The higher up the grade level you go, the more teaching is about the subject matter. And this is where figures on “Education Degrees” are misleading. My mother taught high school English. She had a master’s degree in literature, but not a degree in education. In fact, she thought such degrees were unnecessary and had little to do with being a good teacher beyond teaching primary school. Requiring a degree in education may make sense in the elementary grades, but teachers at the secondary school level and above really need to be degreed in the subjects they teach: math, science, history, language.

    • Petar S says:

      Great point, but that wouldn’t account for the decrease in the ratio over time nor the fact that current indicators are that the situation will continue to get worse.

  29. Josh Morrison says:

    So there is nothing inherently objectionable about the post, and I agree with the conclusion and the policy suggestions have merit.

    What is missing is obvious. The continuing culture war against K-12 and higher education in the US, promulgated by cultural conservatives who are bent on making teaching the least attractive profession outside of latrine cleaner. Yes we should pay teachers more, most likely 33% more, and besides that, make it a year-round occupation so teachers do not have to take second jobs to survive. Wouldn’t it be better to use school buildings in summer for professional development and further pedagogical training and development, rather than sitting empty? Couldn’t we extend the school year for a month and get additional learning in? The lack of imagination on this is absolutely astounding.

    But if we keep treating teachers like replaceable cogs, we’ll not get the workforce we need. Then, we get what we deserve.

    • David says:

      Product of public education here. You don’t have to be a “cultural conservative” (something wrong with that?) to see how miserable public education is actually serving society at this point. Newsflash- It ain’t because conservatives don’t want kids to learn, it’s because kids don’t care, their families don’t care and other political interests are more important. In both sides of the aisle.

  30. Go Full AI Teacher says:

    2009’s Start Trek reboot has little spock being taught by an interactive computer system where he stands in a hole like area sorrounded by screens.

    If TIK TOk/FaceBook can screw around with algorythms to manipulate than is the same thing. But instead of commercial garbage fed by psychological manipulation is data fed to gain learning tailored to the specificity of the kids with built in jokes, breaks, feedback, etc. More importantly it will match the kids needs and abilities. Little Donnie Trump is abused by narcissistic family, software will teach and do therapy at the same time…..

  31. Mark Lemon says:

    I thought about teaching 30 years ago. Everyone said I’d be good at it. But there was no way, even then, that I wanted to take a chance at being a single male in a classroom. Not sure how you fix this, but it needs to be fixed.

  32. NA says:

    Sorry. No more male teachers… full stop. As a child who was groomed and abused by the ONLY male teacher I had in elementary school in 5th grade… the answer, from a mother now with 2 elementary school aged kids, including a son, is no. Full stop..hard no. Men need to be worried about getting one thing, and one thing only under control….their rates of sexual and physical violence against women and children. When women and men are equal in terms of probability of committing crimes on that front… then we can talk. But just google it… and you will see we are “Catholic Church” top of the iceberg about rampant sexual abuse in schools.

    • SD Law says:

      Your experience is undoubtedly hurtful but your solution – “No more male teachers… full stop.” – and misandry are worse.

      • Taryn says:

        I do think that’s part of the equation that’s being left out. There’s a large percentage of the population that doesn’t feel comfortable having men around young children because of fears of sexual abuse. That said, if you want to torture yourself by googling arrests for teachers having sex with students, the women are in on it to from about middle school age. :/

        • NA says:

          It is true that women are part of the sexual assault mix starting in middle school and beyond… but at no where near the rates men are even in those higher grades. If I have to gamble on my children’s’ safety… the odds favor women… and I would LOVE for men to do something about that!!

  33. NA says:

    I have another suggestion: Establish a Teach-for-America-like program for retirees to train them as teachers. For example, I’m a 55 year old retiree. I was formerly an executive at an NYEX-listed company. I’d love to make a difference to young people if I know how. English is definitely something I can teach – unlike geometry, which I’ve not used since college. As a retiree, I’m no longer looking for highly compensated, highly competitive roles. My idea of making an impact has evolved. I just need some training on the basics to make sure that my teaching will meet the standard required. And if the post-retirement teaching gig comes with healthcare benefits, it’s icing on the cake, and a win-win-win for all.

  34. C Cook says:

    Primary schools were run by and for women/girls. Boys are expected to behave as girls. When boy get into a fight, the answer is to break it up, make them shake hands. Likely they forget about it in a day. Girls will smile at each other than trash their rivals in Social Media or rumor mill. Just like their mothers do. A male Jr High teach I know tells me Administrations run similarly. No working though ‘problems’, just smiley face solutions. Colleges now are under the control of a separate justice system for girls and boys. If a boy is accused or any sexual related issue, he is immediately suspended. Any ‘hearing’ is conducted by a female staff member. The testimony or even proof from the boy is NOT admitted. History of mental illness or previous accusations from the girl is not allowed. Male administrators risk their careers if they intervene. The entire education system seems to be run by alpha females and whimpering males. No wonder college enrollment is down so significantly for boys. The system is stacked against them.

  35. Leslie Dean says:

    My son is 29 and his favorite teachers were male- of course they taught Math and Science. And they also held him more accountable for attendance and homework. even though they complained, they respected them and knew they were watching out for them. Female teachers were more easily charmed and forgiving.

  36. Peter Coates says:

    The scarcity of male teachers is one problem, but I suspect a bigger problem is the way boys are systematically disrespected specifically for being boys. It’s the way our mass mind works–individually we’re smart enough, but as a culture we can’t handle any conceptual relationship more complex than a dichotomy. We must do better by girls, therefore boys are now the enemy. Masculinity itself becumes unacceptable, something to be suppressed, rather than something to be formed. The more of a boy a kid is, the more likely he is to be drugged to make him acceptable. Boys are immature, but they aren’t stupid–they get the message that their very nature is what’s unacceptable.

  37. Charles Ramsey says:

    Amazing and disgraceful. You suggest goals for male educators which is a wonderful idea. Further, we need overall plan, with goals, for education that covers everything from ratios to the kinds of skills that enable people do do things other than write code and calculate the cost of capital. You have an amazing ability to bring up overlooked issues. Thank you.

  38. Marc Milgrom says:

    There’s a lot to unpack here:
    -First off, teaching is in crisis in general, not just by the gender divide. Poor pay and status, lack of administrative and parental support, and crumbling facilities have sent many experienced teachers to the exits, especially from schools where they are most needed. This was true when my mom retired 20-odd years ago and has only worsened since the pandemic. The worsening gender gap is a reflection of men typically having more options due to their overrepresentation in most higher-paying private sector jobs.
    -The disproportionate role of men in coach and extracurricular roles likely reflects their persistent smaller role in housekeeping and caregiving. Many women choose teaching for its shorter onsite working hours which facilitate their caregiving responsibilities. Almost without exception the teachers who coached or ran clubs at my schools were either single, childless, or had grown children. That wasn’t true of the men.
    -We’ve turned education into another front in the culture wars, with a focus, particularly on the right, on a hundred “issues” which have no bearing on educational outcomes and ignoring most of the ones which do.

    • Josh Morrison says:

      These are excellent points and ones I missed in my reply. It’s true – people make choices on what they are going to do and make trade-offs among responsibilities. Generally women who wish to bear children know that they will have summers off for child care and have most evenings free for the child care and rearing required.

      Good point (also mine) about education and culture wars. If you were a single male with an English education degree and got yelled at for teaching mandatory curriculum, when you had other good options, why would you do it?

    • Joanna says:

      “sector jobs.
      -The disproportionate role of men in coach and extracurricular roles likely reflects their persistent smaller role in housekeeping and caregiving. “- Exactly what I was thinking! Yes, we need more men in schools, especially primary ed, but education is in crisis for all teachers.

  39. Stephen Thurston says:

    I have only a few words to say about this article…… This isn’t rocket science, why on earth isn’t it a clarion cry for everyone, educators et al, who cares about the future?

  40. Tobin Trevarthen says:

    Hopefully, we can distill this observation away from the “us vs. them” atom splitting that always seems to occur when we have a gender-based discussion. Let’s project the future we want to see, vs. the past we continue to wallow in. If we leave everything to extrinsic rewards, we will live with the loudest voices.


    I found this artice so interesting, in part because so much of my fundamental formation ( in Vancouver British Columbia Canada) was molded by the curriculum, culture and teachers at my all girls l school; which were ALL female except for my drama coach.
    British Columbia boasts the second highest private school system per capita in North America ( makes sense, British Commonwealth, the genesis of private school systems) outside of Conneticut.
    The teachers in the mixxed boarding schools are almost all male. There is a strong sense of continuity, patriarchy and andro cenricity to the ‘caste system’ and the donors that support the schools. ( side note- One year, the headmaster, (male) , got involved with a student and I beleive they ended up marrying – from the all girls school)
    So- lets socio analyse the shit out of why mixxed gender private schools have almost exculsively male teachers. Please. I have my own perspective which would be- boys need men to appropriately mold , form and shape into the Masters iof the Universe their fathers are. Girls are still unimportant. They need no role models.

  42. Greg Stevens says:

    My parents divorced when I was 8 and my dad split. My mom worked her ass off and put 5 kids through college. She’s my role model of role models. In middle school my mentor was my science teacher Mr. Spacek and in high school it was my Bio teacher Mr Dogget and my sports coach Mr Baker. Each of these men inspired, mentored and disciplined me. I had a particular need and they delivered for no reason other than they cared about outcomes.

  43. E. Chait says:

    I’m curious to know what the male/female teacher ratio is in private and parochial schools, especially the elite private schools that the 1% attend.

  44. Matt Shobe says:

    I had an incredible male teacher at the elementary school level, and then another one in high school – sort of mentorship/educator bookends for my K-12 life in the late 70s/80s. I can’t quantify any specific advantages they gave me, but I do remember wanting to do my very best work for both of them because their approval meant the world. That had to be worth something extra.

  45. Carsten Schmidt says:

    I am a guy, was raised mostly by my mom (my parents divorced when I was 9) … my favorite teacher was a woman (English teacher). Maybe I am the minority here (guy whose favorite teacher is a woman and turns out ok), but I honestly don’t think this matters that much. The same with growing up with a single parent. I think much more important is the family situation and your circle of friends. The reason that teacher had the most impact on me was that she was an amazing teacher … not an amazing female teacher or male teacher but an amazing teacher. In college I had an amazing math professor who brought math to life for me, that had nothing to do with him being a man, it had something to do with him being an amazing teacher. Make subjects relevant, bring them to life, spark excitement. For this we need to pay teachers well, we need to give them room to experiment. Let’s not vilify them, let’s not tell them that as women they won’t have the impact on boys as men. Let’s empower them. Because I honestly don’t think that it matters what gender your teacher is as long as that teach is a great teacher.

    • Peter Coates says:

      I suspect that having an influential teacher of either sex is rarer than it used to be. All three of the teachers who were most important to me were women, but of course, teaching was almost entirely a female occupation when I was in school in the 1960’s. “Women’s Lib” was just starting and there were fewer occupations for the top women in those days. Therefore, a large slice of the best and brightest women became school teachers. Tellingly, two of the three were older women. Today, it’s highly unlikely that women of that caliber would be teaching–they’d be Ivy League professors, or heading a lab, or have positions in government. It’s a side effect of the abrupt increase in equality of the sexes that nobody talks about–it resulted in a huge drain of top talent from the field. We should have made it a high-paying, prestige job to stem the drain and pull in top men as well, but nodoby saw it coming. By the time my kids were in school, they’d bring home notes from the teacher with grammar and spelling that would have had you held back in the eighth grade in the 1960’s.

  46. Marc says:

    I worked for 15 years in the high tech private sector in the Silicon Valley and I’m now on my 16th year as a high school teacher. Low teacher pay is an on-going, huge issue and unfortunately I don’t see things changing anytime soon. Another issue that you did not bring up is the fact that education is moving in the direction of coddling and leniency, and away from individual accountability. And while this affects both male and female teachers, I believe administrators prefer what they perceive as “softer” female teachers (ironically I have found that many parents actually prefer strict teachers).

    • C Cook says:

      Worked my career in Tech. Assisted in a High School with un-represented boys wanting to be the first in their families to go to college. Girls in the program consistently favored: ‘You Go Girl!’ T-shirts, etc.. Boys marginalized. Women advisors were dead set on the students going to a four year school, clearly few were ready. Academically, socially, financially. Got angry when I brought up the fact that the choice of major was important. ‘All you need is a degree!’ was the attitude. Boys knew different, many talked to older boys with massive student debts. I was not invited back because I advocated the student go to a two year school to save money and figure out what they want to do with their education. This kids needed pragmatic and honest guidance, not cheerleading. But, cheerleading is what our education system seems to want. And, most cheerleaders are female.

    • Connor says:

      Is it the coddling and leniency that’s attracting more women, or the women who are imposing more coddling and leniency? If the coddling an leniency is in fact a problem, then may infusing a bit more masculine energy into the system might help push things back towards individual accountability.

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