Getting Bristol to talk about gender in Early Years

The Bristol Men in Early Years network are holding a conference in City Hall to get the city talking about issues around gender in education on Tuesday 10 July.

Everyone from teachers, students and members of the public, including both women and men, who have an interest in challenging gender imbalance and stereotypes are being invited to take part.

The conference aims to raise awareness of gender issues in early years’ education, find ways to overcome them and change the way we look at education for our young children.

The hope is to find new solutions to help young children challenge gender stereotypes so they can grow up to make their own choices about their careers and gender roles.

Shaddai Tembo, is part of the Bristol Men in Early Years network.

He said:

“We believe the current preconceptions of gender placed on children are restrictive and often harmful. This conference addresses these preconceptions head-on and seeks to challenge the low status attributed to the Early Years Profession.

“It is really important to us that this conference is open to everyone. As a Community Interest Company, anything we make from this conference will go straight back into our work to address gender issues in a child’s early years education. We hope to see members of the public, students and those working directly or indirectly with children coming along and taking part.”

The event will feature several keynote speakers to help inspire the debate. These include Graham Andre, star of BAFTA nominated BBC2 documentary “No More Boys and Girls”, and Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College London. There will also be a series of workshops on the day to discuss these issues, which will be held by other experts and authors on the subject.

Cllr Anna Keen, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said:

“As a Learning City we want to make sure everyone has access to a good education to help make Bristol a fairer more equal city. A key part of this is making sure we have the right teachers to inspire and encourage our children, from nursery through to higher education and beyond.

“Making sure our younger children have the opportunity to access highly motivated male role models in early years can prove to be an important part of this and can challenge the gender stereotypes that our children are sometimes exposed to. I’d encourage everyone to come down and take part in this exciting conference to expand the conversation and make sure our children can get the best start in life.”

The Bristol Men in Early Years Network is designed to provide support for men working in any capacity with children up to the age of seven. It acts as a professional forum and works to unpick common misperceptions and challenge stereotypes. Across the country around 98% of the early years workforce are female and only around 2% are male.

Johnny works at Filton Avenue Nursery School and Children’s Centre as an Early Years teacher.

He said:

“Having my own child made me realise how incredibly important the care, nurturing and development of young children is. Where is the male workforce in early years? Why is this seemingly so exclusively the role of women? Where are the fathers?

“I trained 25 years ago and have remained in Early Years all my life. I am still amazed how female orientated the sector still is. Children need to be in settings that mirror the real world. I’d like to think that we are slowly getting there.”

The event will also feature a range of other local Bristol organisations to showcase some of the work already being carried out across the city to tackle gender inequality. These will include stalls from Bristol Zero Tolerance, The Bristol Standard and TIGER Bristol (Teaching Individual Gender Equality and Respect).

Tickets cost £40 per delegate with a special £20 discount for students. This allows you to take part in one of the interactive workshops as well as watching all the keynote speeches. This conference has been organised in partnership with the Bristol Learning City partnership.

More information is available on the event website.