BOONE LIFE: Child's World Play School employee challenges gender stereotypes

Sunday, February 7, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 3:27 p.m. CST, Monday, February 15, 2010
Quintin Imler fights gender stereotypes in child care as the only male employee of Child's World Play School. Only 4.4% of child care workers are male, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

ASHLAND — Within the first few minutes of arriving at work, Quintin Imler hears a chorus of “Q! Q!” from a group of children trying to hold his attention.

His part-time job as a day care worker and preschool teacher’s assistant at Child’s World Play School in Ashland calls for hours of encouraging children and nurturing their individuality. In the U.S., the profession of child care is largely left to women — only 4.4 percent of child care workers are male.

As the only man employed at Child’s World Play School, Quintin sees differences in the way that children interact with him compared to his female co-workers.

“If something is broken or if there is a fight or a tussle, the kids usually come to me,” Imler said. The students often have a preconceived notion that men are tougher and therefore are better able to fix and defend, he said.

Imler has worked with several students who lack a male role model in their family, which makes having one at daycare particularly important, he said.

“Men are so traditionally a discipline figure in the family,” said Imler, who makes an effort to reprimand children without being harsh. He believes that by demonstrating positive reinforcement, kids can also see a nurturing side to their fathers when they go home.

“Every family is different,” he said.

Some children are confused seeing Imler perform traditionally female tasks, as responsibilities around the school are shared equally between him and his female co-workers. A new student confronted him perplexed and asked why he was vacuuming.

“She thought that my female co-worker should be vacuuming,” Imler said.

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jeri mertensmeyer February 10, 2010 | 11:38 a.m.

My daughter goes to Child's World and loves "Q". When she first started, "Q" was the only teacher she ever talked about. He is an excellent teacher. And we are blessed to have him as a teacher at Child's World.

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