Debate on gender bias

    We asked:- Is gender bias alive and kicking when it
    comes to promotion to the top jobs in social care or is the notion
    exaggerated?

    These are some of the comments we received.

    “Men might predominate in the upper echelons of social care
    while women make up most of the workforce. But my experience as a
    single male job seeker suggests that prejudice works against men
    too in ‘traditionally female settings’.

    In 1991, aged 37, I was on a government-funded training course
    aimed at working with under-5s. As the only single male [and Quaker
    Meeting crèche rota volunteer and uncle six times over], I was
    the last to be offered a work placement on a very time-limited
    course that started that February. The first nursery I visited for
    an interview told the training company’s placements officer
    before my interview: “We’re dead keen to take on more male
    students because of our Equal Opportunities policy.” After the
    interview they told her, “We’ve changed our minds: a male
    student would require too much supervision.”

    My second interview before Easter break gave me two months of
    one day-per-week at a college nursery, starting late April [i.e.
    after Easter]. That college nursery’s manager told the
    placements officer, “He’s an excellent male role model to
    small children.”

    At the end of term and 100% of 200 hours course attendance, it
    was back to the dole queue and a woman clerk who discouraged
    volunteering and sentenced me to Job Club attendance – despite a
    basic training certificate to build on!

    Fourteen years later, perhaps the legislation-led checks for
    workers with vulnerable people can serve as a great leveller?

    In June 2004 with CRB Enhanced Clearance in hand from June 2003,
    I became a basic skills learner support volunteer for adults with
    learning difficulties. In February 2005, my prospective employer is
    paying for my Pova and refreshed CRB Enhanced Clearance checks
    toward my starting paid work helping adults with learning
    difficulties gain greater independence.

    No such checks existed when and where the unspoken,
    tabloid-driven question was, “What would a childless single male
    want to do with other people’s children?””

    Alan Wheatley
    London

    “I felt sad when I read Beatrix Campbell’s article. Sad that
    10 years after I went through my own hard times nothing seems to
    have changed in local government cultures.

    There are a few significant beacon authorities, but they are the
    exception rather than the rule.

    For my part,  I’ve since chosen a career path outside and am
    happy for that. The waste of talent which this gender bias causes
    continues to be paid for by council tax payers and service
    recipients.

    When will it ever end?”

    Esther McLaughlin

     

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