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Even after years of studying gender as a sociologist, I was not prepared to see a man in the infant room on my daughters’ first day at a new child care center in August 2011.  I assumed the man was a dad.  When my three year old happily introduced me to “Teacher Adam” the next day, I realized that he was the first male child-care worker I had ever met (thus, my Biblically-based pseudonym for him– “Adam”).  I left the center very pleased that my family had chosen a seemingly progressive child-care facility in the small California city to which we had just moved.

I soon found out that not all of the parents or female staff were so pleased.  These staff and parents believe that men should not care for small children, especially infants, in a child-care facility, and that any man who wants to do so is a pedophile.  Thanks to their beliefs, Adam, the only man ever to be hired in the 25 year history of my daughters’ child-care center, no longer works there.  In fact, he will no longer be able to work with children ever again.

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Like Lata Murti, I, too, have been thinking, teaching, and writing about men and women at work for a long time, and my initial reaction to her story is one of regret for Adam.  Nearly simultaneously, though, I think about my own daughter and what my spouse and I expect of the people who care for her.  When I look back at the history of her baby-sitters, the majority of them (all but one) were women.  And when I’m honest with myself, I’m not sure I can dismiss the possibility that each of those independent decisions was gendered in some way.

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