I am writing this blog as I come to the end of my time with the Bristol Men in Early Years (BMIEY) Network, and prepare for a move up to the University of West Scotland to begin my PhD study in heteronormativity in early years practice.
As someone with an active interest in addressing inequalities within the early years, it made sense for me to set up a space to share my ideas and thoughts on such issues close to my heart.
The past few years have been filled with optimism, frustration and hope. I am left feeling optimistic about the capacity of a local network to critically engage with the profession and connect academics in research to those who are involved in the daily education and care of our youngest children.
We have successfully facilitated quarterly network meetings to create a space for discussion and reflection on how best we can address gender issues from birth, and I am confident the network will continue this important work without me. The BMIEY network is a brilliant resource for anyone interested in getting involved, I encourage you to follow them as they progress over the next few years. I would like to thank all who have supported the network in getting it to where it is today.
At the same time, there is no magic bullet. For all the thought that goes into engaging practitioners, encouraging more men to work with young children, challenging harmful stereotypes, only time will tell whether there has been any useful impact. I remain hopeful that the recent ESRC award, headed by Dr. Jo Warin, will go some way towards creating a strong evidence base to support early years providers motivated to create a more gender-diverse workforce.
Critical Early Years will allow me to continue writing on gender in the early years, but also give me space to extend the discussion out to other issues; race and racisms, (hetero)sexualities, and digital childhoods, to name a few.
I am excited about the freedom to write away from deadlines and towards things that matter to me in more creative ways. I hope you will join me.