A new study out of Britain has found that though the population of veterinary school students is increasingly female (over 75 percent), discrimination is still common: Female vets are more likely to remain assistants at veterinary clinics where they work, rather than partner or director.
Researchers at the Lancaster University Management School and Open University Business School interviewed 75 vets across Britain; the vets were between 25 and 63, and worked in both junior and senior roles. Though the questions asked were not directly related to gender, the subject was frequently raised. The prevailing perception was that female vets had limited intellect and strength, and were seen as subordinate to men in the veterinary world. The interviewees also reported that some of their clients insisted that male vets treat their animals.
A belief that was reported by both sexes was that women would not seek promotions and that they only wanted to work part-time. While this view might seem like fewer women were rising to the upper ranks of vet practices because they wanted a family in addition to a profession, the issue is much more complicated, said Dr. David Knights, Distinguished Scholar in the Department of Organization, Work and Technology at Lancaster University.
Many of the women interviewed reported that they had been treated as if they were not as intelligent as their male peers and that they were presumed to want children, which was also treated as an issue. Female vets who did have children were not taken as seriously within their practices and were not considered for promotions.
Though this kind of sexism is not challenged often by senior vets as they are unaware of the issue, many times clients that also exhibit sexist views are not addressed, which leads to a decline in confidence in female vets.
The study concluded that sexism is still rampant in veterinary medicine, but that females are not challenging these long-held beliefs that they are not as capable as men. The researchers conclude that this sexism will be an issue as senior vets seek to recruit and retain vets for their practices.
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