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Confronting Sexism in Child Care
October 9, 2018
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. Crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
-Robert F. Kennedy

Writing in US News and World report, author Sara Mead discusses the challenge of confronting sexism in how lawmakers and others sometimes think about child care.

She explains:
"The growing recognition of the importance of early childhood development, and of the skills that early childhood educators need to help young children learn, has stimulated advocacy and philanthropic efforts to raise compensation for early childhood educators. But these efforts face an uphill battle. Raising pay makes child care and early education programs more expensive. But many families already struggle to pay for preschool and child care. And public funding for child care faces the prospect of cuts due to federal sequestration and challenging fiscal climates in many states. Overcoming these barriers will require innovative thinking and new policy and advocacy approaches. But it also requires confronting another barrier we may be less comfortable talking about: Sexism.

Sometimes, this sexism is overt. A recent New York Times article about early childhood workers struggling to make ends meet quoted a child care worker who was told by a state legislator that, ‘You don't get into this for money, you're paid in love.’ Other advocates have told me of policymakers who believe that early childhood educators don't need more money because they aren't ‘breadwinners’ – a perception that data disputes."

Source: "Confronting Sexism in Child Care," by Sara Mead, US News and World Report, November 17, 2016.

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Comments (3)

Displaying All 3 Comments
Elizabeth · October 15, 2018
United States

Years back I attended a public meeting with the early education commissioner for the state. I asked if there was any grant money for profit centers (as my state only has grants for non profit) The commissioner replied "You shouldn't be making money off of children" if I was quick on my feet I should of said "Excuse me but everyone in this room is making money off of children" Her salary comes from taxes which profit businesses pay.

Rick · October 10, 2018
Rainbow River
Hermosa Beach, Ca, United States

This is really interesting. Child Care is one of the most, if not the most sexist profession. With somewhere around 4% male providers it has not embraced or made efforts bring men to the field. Of course the excuse is that if it paid more there would be more men. There is no evidence to support premise. Because Law, engineering and pharmaceuticals pay more does not make for more women.

Francis Wardle · October 09, 2018
Denver, CO, United States

Shortly after I became a Head Start director, I discovered that our program did not provide health insurance for the staff. I asked a teacher why this was the case, and she replied, "our director told us that we should get our health insurance through our husbands' benefits. The director was a women.

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