Source: Curriculum Inquiry, Vol. 38 Issue 2, pages 189–223, March 2008.
This article focuses on the call for more male teachers as role models in elementary schools and treats it as a manifestation of "recuperative masculinity politics" (Lingard & Douglas, 1999). Attention is drawn to the problematic gap between neo-liberal educational policy–related discussions about male teacher shortage in elementary schools and research-based literature which provides a more nuanced analysis of the impact of gender relations on male teachers' lives and developing professional identities.
In this sense, the article achieves three objectives: (1) it provides a context and historical overview of the emergence and re-emergence of the male role model rhetoric as a necessary basis for understanding the politics of "doing women's work" and the anxieties about the status of masculinity that this incites for male elementary school teachers; (2) it contributes to existing literature which traces the manifestation of these anxieties in current concerns expressed in the popular media about the dearth of male teachers; (3) it provides a focus on research-based literature to highlight the political significance of denying knowledge about the role that homophobia, compulsory heterosexuality and hegemonic masculinity play in "doing women's work."
Thus the article provides a much-needed interrogation of the failure of educational policy and policy-related discourse to address the significance of male teachers "doing women's work" through employing an analytic framework that refutes discourses about the supposed detrimental influences of the feminization of elementary schooling.