Why more women in the veterinary industry don’t lead to equality


The fact that female vets now outnumber male vets at a rate of more than two to one could be seen as a surface success. Whereas in the past 99 percent of male veterinary graduates were men, today 80 percent are women.

But just look at the best jobs in the business and you wouldn’t know it. Despite their digital dominance at entry level, women still fail to break the glass ceiling, at a time when we are experiencing a shortage of vets in Australia.

Historically, there have always been many obstacles to the career progression of female veterinarians.

Lack of flexibility in working arrangements for mothers

Too often, the lack of representation of women in leadership positions and wage inequalities are blamed on lifestyle choices. Clinics demand roster flexibility and overtime (usually unpaid), which puts additional pressure on women who need structured start and end times to pick up children from daycare or daycare. school.

Women with children feel like difficult or demanding employees, unable to take on managerial positions due to their rigidity. We are punished in our careers for briefly leaving the profession to have children, and those of us who do, mostly come back part-time, which is seen as an additional barrier to promotion.

Ageism and sexism in everyday life

While it is true that perceptions of professionalism and skills of women are changing, generational change in the industry means that the most senior positions are still largely dominated by men; most veterans are men, most employers and clinical operators are men, and there are more men in various leadership positions. Women, on the other hand, make up the majority of early-career veterans. This gender imbalance between young and old adds an ageist dimension to sexism: older male clients or practitioners denigrating younger women, relegating them to minor tasks and supporting their male peers with the same or even less experience. .

I remember working in a practice with a young nurse, clients always thought he was the vet and that I was a nurse, even though my badge clearly stated that I was the vet. It was not unusual for customers to use language littered with well-meaning, but degrading words, such as “love”, “darling” and “ma’am.”

Gender pay gap

Poor bargaining skills are often blamed for the gender pay gap in veterinary medicine. Women must be better negotiators! More business acumen! We need to be more assertive to deserve a pay rise. However, this only mentally illustrates the wage divide and the sexism he is wrapped in that refuses to take responsibility for the fact that there is an imbalance of power in the wage bargaining room, an imbalance particularly felt by employees. women, who already feel embarrassed by the time they need to take off to take care of the children. The most frustrating thing is that it releases the employer from all responsibility in this matter. It’s not my fault that I don’t see your worth – it’s yours!

Industry disruptions are paving the way for women

As some women leave the industry altogether, I was fortunate to discover and secure a role as one of the many female vets at Melbourne tech start-up Vets On Call. A mobile application company that facilitates veterinary home visits to your home.

Morgan Coleman is the Indigenous entrepreneur and founder of Vets On Call and he has a different take on the role women can play in the industry. With more women than men on the team occupying both senior, junior and part-time vet positions, flexible working hours and conditions are the norm.

For the first time in my veterinary career, I am able to continue the career that I love, using my many years of study, in a way that matches my responsibilities as a mother. I also benefit from mental health initiatives and safety measures that Veterans on call implemented to ensure my mental and physical well-being at work.

Coleman says you don’t have to hang on to a traditional business model.

“As an industry disruptor and start-up, flexible working hours and greater career progression for women will mean we can pave the way for the next generation of veterinarians entering the industry and establish a new commercial benchmark for the veterinary industry as a whole to admire.

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