New Zealand Herald

Monday, March 1, 1999

Gender imbalance alarms teachers

WELLINGTON - A Ministry of Education survey finding that more than two in three school teachers are women is alarming the profession.

The gender imbalance is revealed in a 1998 National Research Bureau survey, issued today, which had a 92 per cent response.

The imbalance is particularly marked in primary and intermediate schools, but even in secondary schools 55 per cent of teachers are women.

The senior vice-president of the Post Primary Teachers Association, Roger Tobin, said the continuing overall imbalance raised the question whether there was a commitment to have male teachers as role models for male children.

"It also raises the question whether we are prepared to pay to have that happen," he said.

Secondary schools, where the gender imbalance was less, still had problems with an imbalance in promotions and in the number of part-time and untenured positions.

"We want the profession to be open and interesting to the best quality of graduates, but the imbalance would suggest it is not."

The ministry survey showed the proportion of teachers identifying as Maori up from 6 per cent in 1990 to 8 per cent in 1998.

The proportion of teachers able to deliver the curriculum in Maori jumped from 3 per cent in 1990 to 7 per cent in 1998.

The overall workforce is a relatively mature one - 37 per cent of teachers are aged from 40 to 49 years.

The highest proportion of teachers - 31 per cent - began teaching in the 1970s.

The next highest proportion, 27 per cent, are teachers who began their careers in the 1990s.

Most teachers (30 per cent) have the equivalent of 10 to 19 full-time years in the profession.

Eighty per cent of teachers in all schools are permanent staff; 84 per cent are full-time.

Maori account for 8 per cent of the teaching workforce, Pacific Islanders 2 per cent and Asians 2 per cent.

"This teacher profile considerably under-represents these groups relative to the student population," say survey authors.

The survey also shows that 92 per cent of primary teachers and 72 per cent of secondary teachers have a teaching diploma.

Just under 40 per cent of teachers hold bachelor degrees; 0.3 per cent hold doctorate degrees. - NZPA