Considering the worlds of male elementary teachers: Stories from the road less traveled

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Male, Men, Gender, Masculinity, Elementary, Teacher, Elementary teachers

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


This dissertation presents the results of a year-long interview study with ten, male elementary teachers working in public schools in Upstate New York. It took place during and between the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 academic school years. The main question of the study was, "What is it like to be a male teacher in the predominately female world of elementary teaching?" In order to address this question, I conducted three, tape recorded, in-depth, semi-structured interviews with each of the participants. Symbolic interactionism and grounded theory helped to explain my findings. Findings from the study are organized around the topics of a way of being, family, stereotypes and masculine displays. The participants indicated that their way of being is well-suited for the work that they do with children and for the specific grade levels they teach. Many of teachers reported that they come from families of teachers. They also said that they feel like husbands, brothers and sons to their female colleagues. Findings demonstrate the strong familial feeling engrained in their work. They reported having to deal with stereotypes such as, being role models for students; moving into school administration; being pedophiles; being gay; being held to lower expectations. They engage in activities that are masculine displays, such as participating in and coaching sports. They seek the company of other male staff in their school buildings, and they have close relationships with their male principals. The findings are viewed with a feminist lens and with an awareness of societal heteronormativity. Findings from this study have strong implications for practice and future research.