PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — It's 2019, but male teachers are still a minority in the classroom.
According to Florida Department of Education statistics for 2018-19 school year, the gender breakdown for teachers in the Okeechobee County School District is 74 percent female and 26 percent male.
In Palm Beach County, it's 74 percent female and 26 percent male.
In Martin County, it's 78 percent female and 22 percent male.
In St. Lucie County, it's 73 percent female and 27 percent male.
In Indian River County, it's 73 percent female and 23 percent male.
For some teachers, the gender divide has led to stigmas and labels associated with men who work in the profession.
“There are some parents out there who are concerned maybe with why would a teacher who doesn’t have his own kids want to be around students at all,” said Daniel Alford, Okeechobee High School math teacher.
Sentiments echoed by Dylan Tedders, Okeechobee High School principal who says that even in 2019, teaching according to some isn’t considered a masculine profession.
How many males do you hear at a young age say, "I want to be a teacher?” asked Tedders. ”Society looks at it differently because the norm is the female teacher. So, if there’s a male that is into teaching and really enjoys it and really loves to move students and builds relationships – my fear is as soon as somebody says maybe he just likes being around younger students that could be enough to destroy somebody.”
Latest figures from the U.S. Department of Education reports the gender gap has widened in America’s schools. Among public school teachers, 77 percent are female and 23 percent are male.
A snapshot similar to districts in South Florida. Moreover, the department reports approximately, 80 percent of all public-school teachers are non-Hispanic White, 9 percent are Hispanic, seven percent are Black and two percent are Asian.
Palm Beach Atlantic University joins a list of Florida colleges actively recruiting to create more diversity in public schools across gender and racial lines.
“Our recruiting for diversity is more for ethnicity rather than a gender issue,” said Dr. Chelly Templeton, School of Education and Behavioral Studies Dean and Associate Professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
“We need to have teachers that look like the students in the classrooms,” added Dr. Timothy Ladd, Director of Teacher Education at Palm Beach Atlantic University. ““And I was that one man teacher. I was the white teacher in the black school to make things more complicated. But I was able to change lives one at a time.”
The Department of Education reports over the last three decades the number of minority female teachers has increased by 102 percent, the number of minority males increased at nearly the same rate. But the number of white female teachers also increased by 49 percent, compared to 12 percent for white male teachers.