Women in veterinary practice

02 February 2017
2 mins read
Volume 8 · Issue 1

Recently in the news, the Chris Kelly, qualified veterinarian and Chancellor of Massey University in New Zealand resigned over public outcry from statements he made about women in veterinary medicine. He asserted that ‘…one women graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a full-time equivalent vet throughout her life… because she gets married and has a family…’ (Schroeter and Forrester, 2016). This whole issue has sparked great debate in New Zealand, not only about the moral implications of social media lynching, but also about the consequences of what seems to be an international trend toward women dominating veterinary medicine.

While other scientific fields struggle to attract female students, in veterinary medicine women enrolling in veterinary school have been the clear majority for nearly 20 years. The reasons for this gender imbalance is not entirely clear — it may have to do with visible female role models in the field, or it could be the general shift toward canine and feline medicine compared with the rugged large animal focus in years past which could have attracted more males to the profession. Some believe it is related to the lower pay scale that could be putting off male applicants from entering the field. Certainly though, the disparity in pay seen between men and women in the field could result in an overall lowering of the wage scale for veterinarians, and subsequently could affect wages in veterinary nursing. How we address this is a growing concern.

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