become more aware of our own differentiated responses to the young
children in our care.
In the final chapter, Shaun Johnson wonders, “how can the counsel
of educators be taken seriously that children can grow up to be whom-
ever they want to be if the educators’ own profession is marred by an
ongoing adherence to traditional and conservative gender values?” (p.
249) (“Men in Education: Reframing the Gender Issue”). Johnson asks
a number of provocative questions throughout his chapter as he explores
the broader issue of gender disparity in teaching, including discussions
about status and prestige, salary and benefits, and physical contact with
children. Johnson calls on us to rethink the gender issue in education,
saying, “It is now for us to decide: Is there something inherent about
teaching that makes it more attractive to women or are we as its pro-
fessionals defining teaching so narrowly that only a slim sliver of the
male population joins it?” (p. 252). As I read this chapter, I find myself
questioning much of what I thought I knew about gender stereotypes,
feminist theory, and, especially, reasons for the scarcity of men in early
childhood settings. In fact, I find myself thinking about ways I might
change my teacher education courses and “refocus on the cultural con-
ditions that leave [men] out of the classroom in the first place,” as he
suggests, instead of focusing “simply on so-called boy- or girl-friendly
teaching strategies” (p. 263).
Gender identity is at the core of our being, the source of expectations for
ourselves and those that society has of us. Societal forces and cultural
norms, as well as the way our family members guided and taught us our
beliefs, values, biases, and attitudes, have all gone toward shaping our
gender identity. We learned to fit in and acknowledge the expectations
of our gender roles in order to survive and succeed in society. Some of
our most beloved role models taught us these expectations.
Each time I read the chapters in this book, I reconfirm the impor-
tance of the work that teachers and caregivers of young children do for
such long hours every day of the week, year in and year out. The pay
more often than not does not support a family, and many of you are
doing all you can to keep body and soul together as you devote your
energy, knowledge, and emotions to the young children in your care.
And now, here we come, my colleagues and I, to tell you that some of