A NARRATIVE CASE STUDY EXAMINING THE EXPEREINCES OF MEN TEACHING SPECIAL EDUCATION IN THE ELEMENTARY GRADES
Ferrari, Jonathan "Jono"
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Over the past several decades, the landscape of the workplace has changed in many industrialized nations. In the United States this time period has seen the outright elimination or outsourcing of well-paying “blue collar” jobs. The workforce continues to evolve, change, and become more global, and men and women are making nontraditional occupational decisions, whether by choice or necessity. The traditional views of men and women have begun to shift. However, gender assumptions about masculinity have failed to keep pace with the shift. There are approximately 1.8 million elementary grade level teachers in United States public schools; of these, a mere 9% are male. The paucity of male teachers in the elementary grades has been a concern for many years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 86% of all special education teachers are female. In 2012, 86.2% of all special education teachers were female, and by the following year, the number had dropped to 80.4%. The evidence indicates that more men are embarking on nontraditional career paths. Despite theses changes there is minimal research looking at the experiences of men working as special education teachers My goal in this study was to obtain a better understanding of the influences on and the process by which men make the decision to pursuing a career teaching special education in the elementary grades. The study utilized social role theory (Eagly, 1987), and Stead’s (2014) social constructionist theory as well as Williams’ (1992) glass escalator proposition The findings of this study confirm some of the factors related to career choice, experiences and barriers faced by men in nontraditional careers detailed in the literature. Three themes emerged for each research question: Experiences, advocacy, and benefits. Three themes emerged around the second research question exploring the experiences of men in a female-concentrated profession: The male body, communication, and perception. Three themes arose around the third research question: administration, My Masculinity, and pay. The findings run counter to Williams’ glass escalator proposition, which posits men working in female-concentrated professions are at an advantage. The findings advance support for Buschmeyer’s theory of (2013) alternative masculinity.