Child Care Teaching as Women's Work: Reflections on Experiences

By Kim, Miai; Reifel, Stuart | Journal of Research in Childhood Education, July-September 2010 | Go to article overview

Child Care Teaching as Women's Work: Reflections on Experiences


Kim, Miai, Reifel, Stuart, Journal of Research in Childhood Education


Child care teachers' experiences and their gendered understandings of their work were explored in this study. Two female child care teachers were interviewed individually and asked to describe their work as women's work. Analysis showed that teachers essentialized child care teaching, recognized the paradoxes of being a child care teacher, constructed images of a good teacher, and held contradictory beliefs about their work. The findings are discussed in terms of the ways teachers construct their gendered images as good teachers and the factors related to teachers' paradoxical thoughts about their work. Implications for further research and teacher education practices are discussed.

Keywords: child care, teaching, gendered conception

**********

Child care teaching is a feminized profession. Ninety-nine percent of early childhood teachers of 3- and 4-year-olds in the United States are women (Saluja, Early, & Clifford, 2002). Those in occupations filled predominantly by women, such as teaching, nursing, social work, and librarianship, have often faced barriers in seeking professional status (England & Folbre, 2005). Workers in these occupations receive low pay, lack benefits, and receive little social recognition and respect (Ackerman, 2006). Those occupations have been called "marginal professions" or "semiprofessions" (Etzioni, 1969). Regardless of some recent efforts to increase child care workers' compensation, such as state and federal financial support for developing training programs or employee benefit programs (Ackerman, 2004; Montilla, Twombly, & De Vita, 2001), child care work is still one of the professions where poverty is increasingly feminized (Moghadam, 2005).

Caring for young children in group settings has been considered a natural domain for women, similar to mothering, and devalued as women's work (Nelson, 2001). Mothering in the U.S. culture is assumed to entail intimate bonds between a mother and a child, which are associated with a mother's willingness to respond to children's physical and emotional needs with no expectation of being paid (Acker, 1999; Leavitt, 1994; Nelson, 2001). Nurturance is often linked to a maternal instinct that, supposedly, automatically allows women to rear and care for children (Nelson, 2001). This essentialist belief views women as genetically and biologically determined and thus naturally nurturing and caring, especially in comparison to men (Cole, Jayaratne, Cecchi, Feldbaum, & Petty, 2007; Schneider, 2004). Essentialism is challenged and considered problematic by social constructivists due to its contribution to gender inequity and the lack of conceptualization of socially constructed aspects of gender (Diquinzio, 1993).

"Gender is situated 'intersubjectivity' both as a social construct and a powerful social force" (Dillabough, 1999, p. 387). Gender is present in the daily lives of teachers, even though teachers are not always conscious of gender as they work in school settings (Biklen, 1995). The fact that more than 95% of child care workers are women (U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau, 2008) suggests that gender is a primary force that shapes the child care teaching profession (Tuominen, 2003).

Investigating child care teachers' understandings of their work as gendered work is important, because it helps us understand why a discrepancy exists in early childhood education: the ways that individual early childhood teachers perceive and commit to their profession are at odds with the ways the profession as a whole is considered in political, regulatory, and social contexts (England & Folbre, 1999, 2005). Early childhood teaching is a profession in which teachers are working with "professionalism without professionalization" (Lindsay & Lindsay, 1987, p. 91). Irrespective of training standards, teachers receive low salaries (Ackerman, 2004, 2006; Blau, 2002; Sumsion, 2007; Whitebook & Sakai, 2003), whereas, individually, they demonstrate high levels of job satisfaction, exhibit strong commitment to their job, and believe in the significance of their job (Shpancer et al. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Child Care Teaching as Women's Work: Reflections on Experiences
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.