Rightly or wrongly, the role of professional childcare has long been regarded as the domain of female workers. From Mary Poppins onwards, the image of a wise, maternal lady calmly overseeing our precious children is surely what comes to mind when we think of nannies, governesses and housekeepers alike.
With the possible exception of Mrs Doubtfire, there have been no famous male nannies – either fictional or real – in living memory. However, the recent intake numbers for arguably the most famous of all nanny training facilities show that, little by little, the days of professional domestic childcare always being classed as a job for women may be nearing an end.
This Telegraph article recently reported that Norland College in Bath, which it describes as “the world’s most elite nanny training school”, has just reported its highest ever intake of male pupils for its renowned Early Years Development and Learning BA degree.
‘Where do I sign up?’
Whilst this development has made headlines around the private domestic staff industry, it is important not to overstate the numbers of men involved – after all, only four of the 103-strong 2017 first year class are male.
Nevertheless, the very fact that this is a record-high number shows the extent to which being a nanny has previously been a profession so one-sided in terms of gender that being female could almost have been mistaken for a requirement.
Many within the sector, however, are now extremely confident that this apparently small step towards breaking down gender barriers could be the start of something much bigger, with the director of one agency being positively bullish about this prospect when questioned by the Telegraph: “With social barriers slowly-but-surely breaking down, we predict the trend to continue and for there to begin to be a balance in the numbers of females and males entering the sector.”
Being a nanny to the great and good can be a particularly rewarding career choice, and one of the new male recruits at Norland – 19-year-old Gregory Ridley – summarised why it is a path being taken by more and more young people, regardless of sex: “When my mates found out that I was coming to Norland at first they were really unimpressed. But then I told them about the salary and they said ‘Can I come?! Where do I sign up?’”.
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