Page last updated at 21:13 GMT, Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Clegg: Childcare needs more men

Nick Clegg
Mr Clegg is a father of two, whose wife is expecting a third child

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says there is a "huge stigma" about men working in childcare and some fear they would be "viewed with suspicion".

He said in a speech that men were "woefully underrepresented" in early years childcare, making up 2% of staff.

It meant young children, particularly those from single parent families, were denied a mixture of role models.

He added he used to get "strange looks" at the Commons when he missed a drink so he could put his children to bed.

In a speech to the Daycare Trust Mr Clegg said the fight for equal rights had to be extended "to include equal rights for men in the professions where they are excluded".

"Children need a mixture of role models. And for the one million lone parent families in this country, a male presence in the childcare environment can be hugely positive."

'Hostility'

He said while research showed one in four men would consider working in childcare, "sadly some worry that their motives would be viewed with suspicion".

"There is still a huge stigma attached to men wanting to work in childcare, even just for men who want to take a more hands-on role in providing care for their own children.

"I remember well when I first arrived at Westminster the strange looks I would get when I would miss a drink in the Commons bar so that I could put the kids to bed.

"For men wanting to actually work in the field, the social disapproval, even hostility that they often feel is a huge deterrent."



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