Gender discrimination in veterinary practice

Vets who think gender discrimination is a thing of the past should think again. Recent research on gender inequality and discrimination in the veterinary profession has found compelling evidence that discrimination against women exists, and is most commonly perpetuated by those who believe that women do not face discrimination.

A recent study conducted by the University of Exeter in collaboration with the British Veterinary Association sent identical job reviews to 260 UK-based employers and practice managers. In the study, designed by Dr Chris Begeny and Professor Michelle Ryan, respondents were asked to review a performance evaluation of a vet. Everyone in the study was shown the same performance evaluation. Half of the participants read the review of a fictional veterinarian identified only as “Mark” and the other half got one for a veterinarian named “Elizabeth.”

44% of respondents who had said they thought female veterinarians no longer experience discrimination were likely to find Mark more competent than Elizabeth and worthy of £1100 to £3300 (€1225 to €3675) in additional salary.

“The results of this study are disappointing but possibly not surprising for many of us – they clearly show that gender inequality and discrimination in the veterinary profession is still present, albeit sometimes subtle,” said British Veterinary Association President Simon Doherty. “It is unacceptable that in 2018, when everything about two vets is equal, their gender can still have a significant impact on how they are perceived, treated and paid.”

Researcher Chris Begeny said the study offered “compelling evidence that discrimination against women not only exists but is, in fact, most commonly perpetuated by those who, perhaps ironically, believe that women do not face discrimination.”

 A 12-page summary of the study can be downloaded here