Stats That Tell A Story

Via Tom Hoffmann's shared Reader feed came this post with a statistic that caught my eye.

About 80 percent of American teachers, for example, are female; at the elementary school level, nearly 90 percent are women.

I wondered what the stat would look like here in South Australia and the nation in general so I had a quick search. The article I found over on the ABS website focussed on the percentage for males, but I do know enough basic maths to work out that my state has female teachers at 69 percent of the teaching workforce.

The occupation of 'teacher' has historically been seen as a job for women and this predominance is increasing. In 1993 approximately 37% of teaching staff in South Australia were males but by 2009 this proportion had fallen to 31%. Teaching staff, as defined by the National Schools Statistics (NSS) collection conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), includes those in the classroom as well as principals, deputy principals and senior teachers who spend most of their time in administration (ABS 2009). Although results from the NSS collection do not allow for a distinction between males in the classroom and those mainly in positions of 'leadership', findings from 'Staff in Australia's Schools 2007', a project commissioned by the former Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST), suggest that the proportion of male teachers in Australia's primary school classrooms, for example, could be as low as 21% (DEST 2008). Whilst there are many occupations that have a workforce gender bias, debate abounds as to how (or even if) the decline in the number of males in our schools should be addressed. On the one hand there is the commonly held view that males should be encouraged to enter the teaching profession as they provide a much needed positive role-model for children but, on the other side of the equation, is the argument that it is the calibre of teacher that is important irrespective of gender (University of Canberra 1999)

The only national stats I could find were from 2005 which cited female teachers making 76% of the Australian teaching force. This cam from a research pdf (Demand and Supply of  Primary and Secondary School Teachers in Australia) from the Curriculum Corporation website. Quite possibly the statistics have changed since that time to mirror the South Australian trend. It is quite possible that our teaching workforce stats could look very US like in the near future especially as the aging teachers retire.

Just found the comparisons interesting, that's all.


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