At Greycoat Lumleys, we look to not only provide a premier service as a domestic staffing agency, but also to stay at the forefront of this industry, which occasionally includes talking about some difficult topics.
Thanks to the ongoing fight for gender equality and equity, we are gradually breaking down stereotypes in the workplace. Movements advocating for women in STEM, women in sport, events such as Equal Pay Day, and new legislation regarding maternity leave are important and powerful, but these movements do not negate the need for a discussion on the stigmas that face men - in particular, the stigma that surrounds male nannies.
You wouldn’t assume (hopefully) that a woman would be incapable of working as an engineer, or that teenage girls shouldn’t grow up dreaming of studying at a university. For reference, women were only allowed into universities in the 19th century, despite the fact that the oldest known university was established by a woman - Fatima al-Fihri, who started the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, in 895 CE. Why, therefore, are so many people quick to assume that a male nanny (also known as a ‘manny’) would be either subpar or inappropriate?
What are the attitudes towards ‘mannies’?
Although widely regarded as outdated, it was once a common view that women were caregivers who belonged in the home, and men were breadwinners who belonged in the workplace. Therefore, a male nanny would not fit in with the inappropriate stigmas that were attached to these two genders.
Echoes of these ideas are still evident in today's culture. Years of socialisation means that these stereotypes have become ingrained in media, legislation, and general, day-to-day attitudes. There are even references to these ideas in popular culture - if you were around in the heyday of Friends, you may remember the episode where Rachel hires a male nanny, and Ross, and the other male characters, are uncomfortable with it. The dialogue reads “Really? Guys do that? That’s weird. That’s like a woman wanting to be a…” (we never did get the end of this sentence).
These views are not only harmful, but deeply unfair. Consider, for example, the rise in rates of men taking paternity leave. Over 235,000 men in the UK took up paternity leave between 2017-2018 so that they could take a more active role in raising a family. Recently, there has been widespread discussion about the inadequacies of the paternity leave that is currently offered in the UK - the statutory entitlement for men is only two weeks. A recent poll showed that a third of fathers took no paternity leave at all after their last child was born. The overwhelming view is that the amount of time allotted for paternity leave isn’t enough, and is based on the idea that women want to be at home with the baby, and men don’t.
Progression in the industry:
It’s clear that it is no more unusual for men to find satisfaction in a career in childcare than it is for women - why therefore, should we be reluctant to hire male nannies? An estimated 2% of nannies in the UK are male, and attitudes towards male nannies range from neutral to downright hostile, despite extensive research that strong male role models are important in a child’s development.
The stigma that surrounds hiring a male nanny is an extension of the traditional sexist attitudes towards men and women, and the split between domestic labour and industrial labour that was cemented during the industrial revolution.
Fortunately, attitudes are improving. The prestigious Norland College, famous for supplying nannies for the royal family, has had male nannies graduating alongside their female nannies for several years now. One of their graduates was quoted in the Metro saying “I know I’m teaching a crucial lesson to the children I look after: that their sex or gender shouldn’t limit them in any way, and that if they’re passionate and dedicated, they can do any job they like”.
Childcare with Greycoat Lumleys.
At Greycoat Lumleys, we look to provide first-rate childcare services. Whether you require a live-in nanny, a live-out nanny, weekend childcare, emergency childcare, a nanny/tutor combination, or anything else, we’re confident that we’ll be able to provide a professional, experienced candidate to suit you and your family.
We can also promise that we won’t discriminate based on gender. All of our childcare professionals are fully vetted, and we take great care to match our clients with experienced, professional candidates.
If you’ve got any questions about childcare, or you’d just like to have an informal chat, please do get in touch with us. Or, if you’re an experienced ‘manny’ and you’d be interested in registering with us, please contact our recruitment team.