Document Type

Honors Project

Abstract

The status of the teaching occupation is at a critical juncture. Across the United States, school districts are scrambling to fill teaching positions as the number of people entering the occupation declines. This shortage has made urgent the need to better understand why teachers enter the occupation and why they remain in teaching. Women constitute a vast majority of the teaching force and are therefore the primary subjects of studies on teacher recruitment and retention. Despite this fact, current literature largely ignores the importance of gender in the teaching occupation. In this study, I examine how the occupational crowding of women into teaching has impacted the occupation itself. I ask, “What is the socio-political significance of teaching for women and how has this changed across time?” My research consists of semi-structured interviews with nine female teachers across two separate age groups. I analyze how women articulate their own motivations to teach and their perceptions of the teaching occupation. By situating these responses in the larger socio-political significance of the teaching occupation for women my study offers a more robust examination of the causes of the current teacher shortage.

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