The sustainable development of early childhood institutions in aging China calls for the sustainable development of early childhood teachers, which should attend to the balanced development between male and female teachers. Yet this issue has not been adequately investigated in the literature. To fill this research gap, this study explored the gender differences in Chinese early childhood (EC) teachers’ professional identity (PI) and emotional labor strategies. Altogether, 250 teachers (146 female and 104 male, Mage= 30.28 years, SD = 7.81) from Southern China were sampled and surveyed. First, the independent samples t-tests revealed significant gender differences in teachers’ PI, deep acting, and surface acting. Second, the structural equation modelling results demonstrated that PI fully mediated the relationship between teacher educational attainment, years of teaching experience, and natural and deep acting. Third, multigroup analysis confirmed different mediation paths for female and male teachers. These findings suggest that male and female early childhood teachers differed in their sense of PI and use of emotional labor strategies. Therefore, future policymaking efforts should design and implement teacher professional development (PD) programs and teacher support mechanisms catering to male EC teachers’ needs, characteristics, and difficulties in the Chinese EC workforce.
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- early childhood teacher
- professional identity
- emotional labor