“Put those legs away!” Scots primary teacher claims he and male colleagues suffer staffroom sexism


A PRIMARY school teacher has claimed he and other male colleagues suffer sexism at the hands of their female peers.

Adam Black claims female teachers criticise men’s clothing in a way that would be unacceptable if the situation were reversed.

And the teacher at Eastmuir Primary School, Glasgow, says women complain that men are promoted in primaries based on their gender.

Mr Black, was reflecting on a decade in the profession for a piece in today’s Times Educational Supplement.

Only one in ten primary teachers is male and it has previously been claimed that boys in primary schools lack male role models as a result.

The primary teacher is pictured reading a book to his class

Mr Black claims in his article that the life of a male primary teacher can be “lonely”.

He wrote: “There are the odd occasions when either I or other men who I know have experienced what I suppose could be described as sexism or, at the very least, inappropriate.

“If a man is promoted, as a university friend of mine recently was, the general feeling from his staff is that one of the factors in his promotion was that he was male.”

He added: “I heard a story once about a male primary teacher being in the staffroom when a very senior figure in one local authority came for a visit.

“This particular individual claimed that people like the unassuming teacher (white male) weren’t needed in senior promoted positions but people like his colleague (Asian female) most definitely were needed.”

Adam Black feels the life of a male primary teacher can be “lonely”

Mr Black also explained how he has heard of men’s fashion being criticized by other women.

He added: “I’ve also heard women openly slagging off men’s fashion in a way they would never do for each other.

“An example is an old colleague of mine who was once openly slaughtered for daring to wear shorts during hot weather: comments like ‘put those legs away!’ or ‘did you shave your legs?’

“Whether it was meant or not, objectifying this man made him feel uncomfortable and, funnily enough, he wore trousers the next day.”

The article has received praise on social media with others in the profession agreeing with Adam.

The teacher says he has heard of male teachers being slagged off by women colleagues

Ruth Luzmore said: “Sorry you and others have experienced this Adam. Disparaging comments about appearance, clothing, suitability for promotion etc have no place in schools.

“I have nearly 1:1 male to female teacher ratio in my school and lucky to have every single one.”

@fraserboyd said: “I must say that although I did have two separate bad years experiencing sexism at the start of my teaching career, the things you mention are, thankfully, not present in my workplace.

“I think having several men on staff helps.”

Mark Whittaker said: “Adam I am with you. My experiences mirror yours, sadly. I have taught for over 15 years in Primary schools. I have taught across KS1 and 2 and currently teach in a reception year one and two class.

Black shared his article on Twitter

“There is not enough characters to share my experiences.”

However there were some who disagreed with Adam’s article.

Louise Ford commented: “I’m sorry you’ve had these experiences, but you need to be a little more informed on sexism before claiming that no man would ever dare say certain things to a woman (honestly? That’s offensive, it happens all the time) or that women wouldn’t have concerns applying for promotion.”

@JeremyKwee said: “The problem with this article is surely the fact that one bloke’s anecdotal experience doesn’t change the vast statistical evidence that men in teaching – in fact, in basically every job – are far more likely to be paid more, or be in management positions.”

Earlier this year, it was reported that more male role models are needed within early years education.

The teacher received support online after sharing article on TES

James Bowen, director of the National Association of Headteachers, covering England Wales, said: “It’s important for all children to experience positive male role models and to understand that men can be interested in education, science or reading, just as much as in football.”

Mr Black also explained how if a man is not well it’s described as “man-flu” and “overegging the symptoms”.

He asked: “Why is a man’s cold or flu easier to recover from than a woman’s?

“It creates an unfair culture where men who are really struggling and probably should take a day off to recover don’t do it.

“So they often go on to suffer for longer because of it and the cold turns into losing a voice and being off work for several days – everyone loses.”

Another male teacher said he shares Adam’s views

Strathclyde University Education Professor, John Davis, said: “Everything depends on the culture of the school.

“If there is prejudice across men then we have to look into this.

“The next steps from this is not to create controversy, but to focus on the solution. We do have the answers to that in writing and research.

“I would say the next steps for Adam is to talk about this with his colleagues.”

On social media, Mr Black’s article continued to generate comment.

There were some comments which opposed the views of Black

Ruthie Golding said: “Primary schools should be beacons of equality not perpetuating gender stereotypes. Man flu is a pet hate of mine – it totally belittles men.

“I do not agree with the comments about career progression as firstly the evidence says otherwise.

“The primary sector has proportionally more male leaders than women leaders even although there are more women teachers and there is lots of evidence to say that men in the primary sector achieve leadership positions at a younger age.”

Angie Buhl-Nielsen commented: I’m absolutely with you on the throwaway comments -I have heard what would be classed as harassment if the genders were reversed.

“However you need to look at the numbers more closely when it come to the promotion issue.

This user expressed his views touching on the equal pay issue

“The over representation of males in senior management positions compared to the numbers of male primary teachers does point to an easier path to the top for men. It’s not helpful for complex issues to be superficially examined as in this article.”

General Secretary of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland said no one has ever come forward to the union with a complaint of this nature, but says sexism it totally unacceptable.

He said: “It’s not something that our members have been coming to us about.

“I’ve seen issues like this in Tes before, but they are irregular. So it is not new, but it doesn’t seem to to be particularly present.

“Sexism is not acceptable – that is a given. If there were members coming forward, we would look to support them.”