The Glass Ceiling Effect: Mediating Influences on Early Years Educators’ Sense of Professionalism
The Ontario landscape of early years education is undergoing dramatic shifts, perhaps a sign of a beginning movement toward an integrated publicly funded delivery system model. Ontario is engaged in the final phase of a 5-year implementation plan to incorporate services for 4- and 5-year-olds within the educational sector. The full-day early learning–kindergarten program (ELKP) is a model that relies on the collaboration and professionalism of a teacher and an early childhood educator within each ELKP classroom. While early childhood education programs for children 0–4 years of age continue to be provided via a market-delivery system, the legislative and regulatory framework for child care now resides with the Ministry of Education. Potentially, merging these two distinct fields (care and education) within one ministry can provoke ideological discussions related to professionalism, a facet that is noticeably absent in the policy and framework literature produced by the Ministry thus far. As teachers and early childhood educators collaborate within ELKP classrooms and beyond, ideologies and praxis encounters can challenge one’s sense of professionalism. Thirty-seven early years educators participated in a study examining concepts of professionalism and the factors that mediate and influence professional identity. The findings indicate that educators perceive a “glass ceiling” effect in their profession. Perhaps a reimagining of the glass ceiling can be fostered by finding ways to challenge policy makers and educational systems to consider both new models of training/education and pathways for the co-construction of professional identities for teachers and educators.