As the song goes, the world would be nothing without a woman. On that same note, it would be nothing without a man too.

As a women’s network we often discuss – what more can we do for women?

And we aren’t the only ones sitting down to have these conversations. There are thousands of other groups out there focusing on similar issues. A couple close to home that jump to mind include Women in Technology, Women in Mining and Women in Agriculture. Thanks to the work these groups, and many like them do, the world has seen that women are more than capable of working in these male-dominated fields.

But how can we truly achieve gender equality if as a society we expect and encourage women to do a “man’s job” as well as still expecting them to do “women’s jobs” too. There needs to be an equal shift in the workforce, we can’t expect women to move to male-dominated careers if we don’t expect men to fill the gaps in the female-dominated careers.

At the moment across universities in Perth there are around 16 different undergraduate scholarships that are eligible for women only, most of these scholarships are for science and maths-based degrees. But it is against the Sex Discrimination Act to offer scholarships for men only.

The Education Department has tried to change this law many times due to the lack of male primary school teachers, but the bill is always dismissed due to there not being enough evidence that a lack of male teachers negatively effects children.

However, there are studies that show that having a male teacher is not just good for young boys but for young girls as well. We completely agree that giving children a male role model early on is vital in shaping them into the adults they will become.

In 2016, 18% of primary school teachers were male, a number that has been rapidly decreasing since the 1980’s. The Education Department tried an ad campaign in 2015 to get more men into a career in early education but unfortunately there was no increase in the number of male student enrolments.

The health sector has also been concerned by the number of nurses who are male which in 2017 was sitting at 11.75%. A similar ad campaign was run in WA to get more men to study nursing, as well as the Australian College of Nursing releasing an e-book highlighting the stories of men in nursing across the country.

What is stopping men from getting into these female-dominated industries. Is it the stigma surrounding these roles and the social pressures put on men? Or is it the lower salary that is associated with these careers?

When you think of men working in education and health does your mind automatically think of principals and doctors? We already know through much research that there is a lower number of women in leadership roles, in trying to increase that number should we also focus on getting more men into these vital jobs?

Paul Sonntag is a nurse with 40 years’ experience. He was part of a recruitment team going around to schools in Western Sydney trying to get students to consider a career in nursing. As the only male in the recruitment team he decided to contact the all-boys schools and was surprised to find that not one career advisor he spoke to thought it was worthwhile for someone to speak to the students about nursing.

Not one – We challenge schools not to enforce gender stereotypes when teaching children about careers so that the next generation of the workforce is more gender diverse.

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