While the nation’s corporate suites and student bodies have become more diverse and integrated over the past forty years, the U.S. teaching profession has moved in the opposite direction. In 1996, 90.7 percent of U.S. teachers were white, up from 88.3 percent in 1971, the first year that racial data were made available.
The profession is predominantly white and female, with males comprising only 25.6 percent of the profession in 1996, down from 34.3 percent in 1971. Three out of four teachers are female and only 7.3 percent are black, down from 8.1 percent in 1971.
Teaching is also a profession with little turnover. Only 45,000 of the nations’s 2.2 million teachers–just 2.1 percent–were teaching for the first time in 1995-96.
“These numbers are astounding–particularly the racial ones,” writes Mike Antonucci in the Education Intelligence Agency’s March 1997 report, One Yard Below: Education Statistics from a Different Angle. “A researcher would be hard-pressed to find another profession that is whiter today than 25 years ago,” he adds.
Noting that the over-representation of young, black males in the country’s prison population is a common newspaper editorial topic, Antonucci asks, “Does the presence of male teachers positively affect male students being raised by single mothers? . . . Do men and women teach differently?”
Although recent research findings from the University of California stress the importance of a father in the home as a positive influence on a child’s development, little is known about the effects of male teachers versus female teachers in the classroom.