Department

Leadership

Date of Paper/Work

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work

Dissertation

Advisors

Kathleen M. Boyle, Sarah J. Noonan, Thomas L. Fish

Abstract

“How do men express and make meaning of their experiences in an elementary school setting?” Gender, sex role theory, and tokenism provided the foundation for understanding how male elementary teachers express and make meaning of their work experience. Male elementary school teachers from two Eastern Minnesota school districts, and one Western Wisconsin school district, participated in phenomenological research that included personal interviews, and focus group interviews. Participants described their lived experiences through these interviews, guided by a loose framework of open-ended interview questions. Demographics included fourteen licensed elementary teachers, grades kindergarten through sixth, with a wide range of ages (27-61) and experiences (4 years to 38 years), and racial diversity representative of the geographic location. Participants emphasized their entrance into the elementary teaching profession, advantages they realized due to their gender, how they experienced working with children, experiences related to role modeling, companionship with male colleagues, their desire to have more male teachers, and their struggles fitting into a feminized elementary school setting. Men also reported several challenges attributed to their gender and connected to their work as male elementary school teachers. Although male teachers appreciate, and sometimes long for male companionship on the job, they are generally comfortable as members of the underrepresented gender, and enjoy their work. However comfortable they are, male teachers do struggle to fit into the elementary school setting, and adjust their behaviors in order to minimize these struggles. This study unveiled the contradictory experiences male elementary teachers realize, as evidenced in the dichotomy between gender challenges and benefits, in their relationships with students and colleagues, and in their ability to be themselves.

Keywords

gender identity, gender roles, elementary schools, feminism

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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