Getting men involved in your committee
It’s a question that’s raised quite often in many committees, “why aren’t more Dad’s (males) involved in school committees?”. The answer seems to be an obvious one at first, with men traditionally being the full-time worker and ‘stay at home mums’ being available for committee work which can often be during school hours. But in this day and age where there are MANY Mums and Dads working full time, this reasoning seems to be a bit of a cop out.
Visit a bunch of sporting clubs and you’ll probably find that men are much more visible and involved. So why aren’t there more Dad’s, Grandad’s, Uncles, big brothers and so on joining school committees?
To be honest, it’s not really a simple answer.
I think that one of the underlying issues is that no matter whether you are a Dad, a Mum, a Grandparent, Uncle, Aunty, sister or brother, fear of stepping out of your comfort zone can stop many people from joining committees or volunteering in general. I know that I was hesitant to join the school P & C because I didn’t know anyone and at the time it was a little intimidating. Now I’m in my 4th year as the president and I’ve made some really great friends.
It’s also really important to remember that men are inherently different from women – it’s in our (or should I say ‘their’) DNA, like comparing apples and oranges.
While the make up of and participation will vary from school to school, in my own experience, it would seem that when it comes to school involvement, the menfolk (and many women) are more than happy to volunteer to help out at events but are not so much interested the regular meetings and all that goes along with that. Dare I say that in some instances school committees have a reputation for being likened to mother’s groups or gossip sessions – not necessarily the kind of place that most men (or women if you’re anything like me) want to give up their spare time to be.
Yes, I am probably generalizing and I know that this is not always the case and that there are LOTS of men involved in LOTS of committees around the country. As a general rule though, men seem to respond better when they are asked to contribute to a specific project or job with defined start and finish points. My hubby is a classic example of this – ask him to do a specific job and if he can fit in with the nominated time, he’s happy to get on board.
Part of the answer may also lie within the events and activities that are on offer and that some men might be feeling that not all events are ‘guy friendly’. For example, you’re probably not going to get too many men volunteering to run your Mother’s Day stall or your bake sale but your sausage sizzle or golf day? They’re all over it. So, my first suggestion would be:
- ASK! – whether you send a note home, set up an online survey, or ask in person. Get your answers straight from the horses’ mouth as they say. What activities or events would Dad’s, Grandad’s, Uncles and so on like to see and be involved in? Let them know that you want them to be involved and that your committee is not just a ‘women only’ group.
- Organise some bloke oriented events – The men in your community don’t necessarily want to just be needed for heavy lifting and building stuff so don’t make it all work and no play. State of Origin nights, footy grand finals, poker nights, BBQ and Beer nights (I just made that one up but it sounds pretty good 😉 ) or a billy kart race. This is a great opportunity for a meet and greet for Dad’s and men involved with your school community. It could even lead to suggestion number 3 …
- Set up a ‘Dad’s/Men’s Club’ – If you’ve already got a Dad/man/men on your committee, either directly or ‘indirectly’ (as a partner of a committee member), this might be something that they might like to take charge of. Make it an informal get together which might be as simple as a game of footy or cricket on the school oval or in the local park that they can invite others Dad’s along to with no pressure to attend. Remember not all of us are as good at making new friends as others. Having said that though, there are many examples of these ‘Dad’s Clubs’ organising their own fundraisers and doing a really great job of it.
- Make sure that Mums AND Dads are specifically addressed in any communications that go home. You might find you get a better response if the guys know that this is for them as well, and not just for the ladies.
- When sending information home, be specific about the jobs that you need help with and the time required eg. Manning the bar, cooking the sausages, painting the backdrop for the school play or working on the car wash.
As the parent representatives, it’s our job to make not only our committee but our school and our school’s communities welcoming for ALL. This way we can help keep all those stereotypical and negative stories and scenarios at bay.
Parent committees weren’t ever created to be a pain in the butt. They are designed for discussion, collaboration and improving our children’s education and school experience. They are for having fun while you’re making that happen. They are for making your school a better place. They are for information and knowledge about what’s happening in your school. They are for ideas on fundraising and celebrations of monies raised. They are for socialising and making new friends and most importantly, they are for EVERYONE. There is only one qualification required to join and that is a desire to help.
Fundraising Whisperer Freelance Writer
Regina is a mother of three and a P&C President. She knows firsthand the ups and downs of volunteering!
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