– Half a million Swedish children attend preschool and over 105,000 adults have pre-school as a workplace. It seems reasonable and desirable for preschool to be a place where the children meet the diversity in society, whether it is gender, ethnicity, belief or age. However, only four percent of the teachers in pre-school are men, says Lena Nyström, teacher and university lecturer at Luleå University of Technology.
Already in the spring, Lena Nyström and project manager Susanne Ljunghager contacted the group Men in Preschool, hoping to find opportunities for collaboration. The workshop is the result of this collaboration.
– The arrangement is part of Luleå University of Technology's work to broaden recruitment and increase the diversity of our education. We want more women to study technical education, and we want more male students for teacher education, says Lena Nyström.
Leads to increased awareness
The workshop attracted more than 40 participants from all parts of preschool activities and university students. The day started with valuation exercises to start thinking about what ideas exist about career choices linked to male and female and if diversity is important in our workplaces. The day was then concluded with the participants creating questions on the theme "Do we need more men in preschool?", Questions that were then processed in groups.
– My hope is that the day leads to increased awareness of how we together can work on their workplace and through their networks to eventually create change. There is no quick fix when it comes to changing deeply rotatedtraditions, but it feels valuable that so many different levels in the organizations choose to participate, says Lena Nyström.
One of the participants was Catrin Gisslin, Vice Chairman of the Children and Youth Committee in Piteå Municipality. She believes that the issue of men in preschool has fallen between the chairs.
– There are some efforts done, but it is not enough. The diversity of people is a benefit for children, and it is also so that many children grow up without male models and then male preschool teachers fill an important function. This is an incredibly important issue for the future of Sweden, says Catrin Gisslin, who is now going to push the issue at the national level.
– This initiative from Luleå University of Technology is great and I will bring my experiences from here and bring the matter to the Ministry of Education.
Can not just recruit from half the population
Annica Backman, head of the preschool in Luleå municipality, commends the initiative and highlights the importance of recruiting more men to preschool.
– We can not only recruit new preschool teachers from half the population. The profession, universities, municipalities and those who work and lead the preschool work need to work even more with this issue, says Annica Backman and continues.
– In Luleå we are constantly working on strengthening men in preschool, partly through the male network, but also through internal and external marketing. If we can continue this work together across the municipal boundaries and with the help of teacher education at Luleå University of Technology, it will be even better.