'Build me a male role model!' A critical exploration of the perceived qualities/characteristics of men in the early years (0-8) in England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Young boys' 'underachievement' and their disaffection with learning continue to dominate education agendas [Francis, B. 2006. "Stop That Sex Drive." Times Educational Supplement 30; Peeters, J. 2007. "Including Men in Early Childhood Education: Insights from the European Experience." NZ Research in Early Childhood Education, 10. Accessed February 4, 2013. http://stop4-7.be/files/janpeeters10.pdf; Lloyd, T. 2009. Boys' Underachievement: What Schools Think and Do. A University of Ulster Research Project Funded by the Department of Education and Northern Ireland Office. November. Accessed January 10, 2014. http://www.socsci.ulster.ac.uk/sociology/research/y0publications/Boys0underachievement.pdf; Lloyd, T. 2011. Boys' Underachievement in Schools: Literature Review. Boys Development Project. Belfast: Centre for Young Men's Studies, Ulster University. Accessed February 4, 2013. http://www.boysdevelopmentproject.org.uk/downloads/reports/Boys0and0underachievement0literature0review0edited0in0pdf.pdf]. In recent years, there has been an eruption of government policy making and public discourse in England [Moran, L. 2011. Quarter of All Primary Schools Have No Male Teachers Despite More Men Entering Profession. Daily Mail, September 2. Accessed February 4, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2032970/Quarter-primary-schools-NO-male-teachers-despite-men-entering-profession.html#ixzz2JwpQjSL8; DfE (Department for Education). 2012b. Poor White Boys 'Lagging Behind Classmates at Age Five'. The Telegraph, November 21. Accessed January 10, 2014. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9693409/Poor-white-boys-lagging-behind-classmates-at-age-five.html; PARITY. 2013. Is Action Overdue on Boys' Academic Underachievement? Briefing Paper, March. Accessed January 10, 2014. http://www.parity-uk.org/Briefing/BoysEducPaperRev1b.pdf] calling for more men to transform young lives by working in the 0-8 sector and acting as male role models in an attempt to narrow the 'attainment gap'. This paper critically explores the perceived qualities/characteristics of men who seemingly serve as 'male role models' by reporting on select doctoral research findings which sought to investigate the ambiguities of the male role model from the perspective of men who work in the 0-8 sector. Research participants were asked to identify the qualities/characteristics that they felt 'male role models' should exhibit for young boys in the early years (0-8). The qualities/characteristics identified were categorised by research participants as being 'masculine' (e.g. diplomatic), 'feminine' (e.g. caring) or 'natural' (meaning authentic). Whilst research evidence suggests that male role models will present a diverse range of personal and professional qualities/characteristics, it is argued that these are likely to be shaped by not only the needs and circumstances of the children that the 'male role model' comes into contact with, but also the expectations of others, e.g. parents/carers and staff. This paper argues that there is a real tension between those qualities/characteristics of the male role model that are created as a result of their personality/individual beliefs and those which are anticipated or enforced by others. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-261
Number of pages16
JournalGender and Education
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


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