Where are all the Men?

One-Eighty has recently advertised for 2 new job roles, and out of the applicants that made applications for both positions, only 10% of them were men. Now this isn’t an isolated event. Of all the job applications that One-Eighty have received over the past year, the vast majority have been women. Speaking to some of our volunteers and social work students, they report that only 1 out of a class of over 30 is male. You may have also noticed that 75% of the One-Eighty team (including volunteers) are women.

All of this leads me to ask the question… Where the men at?

On researching this, I came across this article which had some staggering statistics:

“Women constitute 81.6% of social workers, 69.9% of counsellors, and 82.4% of social and human service assistants. Moreover, men account for less than 10% of social workers under the age of 34, suggesting that their numbers will dwindle even more in the next couple decades.”[1]

For some reason, this particular type of work, often referred to as the “caring profession” doesn’t attract men and I wonder if it is for that very reason. The term caring profession could easily lead people and particularly men to view social work as it as a “feminised” profession, which will ultimately lead to them assuming it’s a “woman’s job”.[2]

An article in the Guardian newspaper gives some alternative reasons as to why men may be reluctant to pursue social work as career.

“The actual reasons for the gender imbalances in social work are complex. As a profession, it has a lower status and salary range than some comparable occupations. Gender biases about caring roles being better suited to women may apply. Especially in response to child abuse allegations, some men may be reluctant to enter social work because of its association with child protection practice.”[3]

If this is indeed the case then this does make me feel quite sad! None of these were ever a factor that negatively affected my decision making about doing this type of work and I don’t think they ever should be.

Since it was established, over 4 years ago, One-Eighty have received 114 referrals to do 1:1 interventions. Out of those 114, 81 of them have been boys. Currently, One-Eighty working with 14 boys and out of them, 9 either don’t know who their real dad is, have no contact with their dad or don’t view dad as being a positive role model. We have also recently had requests for men to work alongside a particular young person, because they have no positive male role models in their life.

Something needs to be done so that there are more men doing this type of work. Not because they will be better at it than women, but because they have something else to offer. So many boys are crying out for positive male influences in their lives. Someone who could help shape a better future for them, build them up and encourage them to reach their potential.

Maybe we need to start by getting rid of the term “caring profession”. This clearly puts men off as it tugs at their view of masculinity and what a man should do. Although it’s true that we are caring for young people, it is also so much more than that. It’s about inspiring, influencing, motivating, problem solving, strategizing. It’s about bringing the best out of young people. This is the reason why I (a man) chose to be involved in this type of profession. This is also the reason why I love my job and would urge more men to consider getting involved in this type of work.


[1] http://mic.com/articles/30974/almost-82-percent-of-social-workers-are-female-and-this-is-hurting-men

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/social-life-blog/2011/dec/02/social-work-womans-job

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2014/jul/25/why-so-few-male-social-workers

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