VASHON, Washington — According to the World Bank, “Africa is the only continent” in the world where teaching is a male-dominated profession. Men in Africa often have better access to education and career opportunities than women, therefore, more men end up in the teaching profession. However, an increased presence of female teachers is impactful as female teachers empower girls to stay in school and develop careers, breaking long-standing stereotypes and promoting gender equality in developing countries.
Representation in Education
Female teachers act as positive role models for young girls, especially in areas where women are underrepresented in the workforce. When girls see female teachers in the classroom, girls are inspired to pursue careers in education and other historically male-dominated fields. Girls may also perform better in school when female teachers educate them. In a study by The Conversation, girls in the sixth grade, around age 13, scored higher “on standardized tests in reading and maths” when female teachers taught them as opposed to male teachers. Young women who achieve better test scores, perhaps due to female teachers’ influence, are more likely to access better job opportunities after school. Across Africa, female teachers empower girls to develop their own careers, breaking gender stereotypes and paving the way for future generations of women to do the same.
Greater Societal Benefits
The influence of female teachers leads to higher rates of women in the workforce, which benefits women, their communities and their local economies. According to the World Bank, countries with few female teachers have lower life expectancies for women and higher rates of child marriage. When girls have outlets to develop careers and support themselves financially in low-income areas, they are less vulnerable to exploitation and human rights abuses, such as child marriage. Additionally, female teachers empower girls to remain in school and pursue careers that later benefit economic productivity. Higher rates of girls in school can also benefit public health. Uneducated women are less likely to vaccinate their children and are more likely to contract HIV and experience higher rates of maternal and infant mortality.
Safety in Schools
According to Education International, parents often feel more comfortable sending their children to schools that employ female teachers and administrators because the presence of female teachers creates a notion of safety. In learning environments that employ both men and women, many families feel their child may be at less risk of sexual harassment and violence. Therefore, the probability of parents sending their daughters to school becomes higher when female teachers are present in the school. Additionally, female teachers, as role models and mentors, may allow girls to feel more comfortable coming to school during menstruation or pregnancy. Female teachers improve girls’ education in many ways while providing them with a safer, more comfortable learning environment.
Women in education have the power to uplift young girls and break gender norms in developing countries. Increasing the number of female teachers in Africa can improve gender equality, economies and public health. Female leaders in education are essential to both social and economic growth and can serve as inspiring role models for young girls around the world.
– Cleo Hudson