At Better Start Bradford, we put the community at the centre of everything that we do. In July, the Men in the Early Years Conference took place in Bristol and was attended by Satnam Singh, one of our Community Board members and Ian Thorpe, one of our Programme Facilitators.
The aim of this year’s conference was to give people an opportunity to look at gender and ways of addressing the work force imbalance with men taking up only 2% of the early year’s workforce, tackling harmful stereotypes and how to raise the status of the early year’s profession. With keynote speakers such as Dr Robert Winston and Graham Andre it was going to be an interesting day!
Girls and boys can be anything they wish to be regardless of gender
The first presentation was by one of the teachers from the BBC Documentary ‘No More Boys & Girls’. It covered the fact that from birth, children are socially engineered to be a certain way due to their gender. The biggest thing I took away I from the event was to put no limits on a child’s dreams and aspirations: girls and boys can be anything they wish to be regardless of gender. There is more information about the programme in this article from the Guardian.
I attended a workshop delivered by Finn Mackay. Finn is a senior lecturer/author at the University of the West of England. The workshop was very interesting as again it confirmed the social narrative that from birth, children are engineered socially to be a certain way and in some cases it can be harmful to the child. From simple things like all girls are weak, helpless or want to be princesses waiting to be rescued by Prince Charming (who is strong, silent and capable of anything). The fact that suicide amongst men is at its highest rate tells you something (boy’s not being encouraged to talk about issues).
A child should be limitless in their growth and development
Ian went to a workshop called ‘How do you solve a problem like attracting, recruiting, retaining and developing men in the Early Years?’. He came back bursting with different strategies that we could look at in our area. How we can look at ways of celebrating and building on the achievements of men in the early years, build on the Men in the Early Years work that has happened in Bradford and look at ways of developing the work with Dads in the early years, so watch this space…
I think children growing up not having any limits on what they want to be is fantastic. A child should be limitless in their growth and development and not socially engineered to be a certain way.
by Satnam Singh, Better Start Bradford Community Board Member