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Mind the pay gap

01 Apr 2022 | Justine Shotton


BVA President Justine Shotton looks at what the latest statistics from the SPVS salary survey tell us about the gender pay gap for vets in 2022.

Mind the pay gap Image

In 2018 BVA and the University of Exeter published a study revealing that gender discrimination was a real and worrying problem in the veterinary profession. The study gave a clear insight into the mechanics of how women were discriminated against in both pay and career progression.  So the results of the latest SPVS salary survey, suggesting a widening pay gap, are not a surprise but they are certainly seriously concerning. I’ve already had members contact me to express their dismay and to ask what more we should be doing to tackle this ongoing issue.

We are concerned that the SPVS statement suggesting the pay gap may be due to seniority rather than gender oversimplifies a serious issue: the ‘Mark and Elizabeth’ experiment with the University of Exeter sadly showed that, even with identical experience and qualifications, employers are inclined to pay women less and to offer them less support in the workplace to progress into more senior roles.  Sadly, when BVA published the report on discrimination some members of the profession questioned the methodology and denied the findings, rather than recognising the problem.

It’s particularly disappointing to see that a gap is evident even in the first few years after graduation. This makes it clearer than ever that if we ignore the drivers causing this inequality in the hope that the next generation of women vets will automatically earn more as their careers progress then we will be facing a similar picture in the future: a female-dominated profession where women are under-paid and under-represented in more senior roles.

The reasons employers are inclined to pay women less are complex and the gender pay gap is certainly not unique to the veterinary profession, but that is not an excuse to do nothing. We all have a responsibility to start looking at how we can help tackle this appalling discrimination.

Through our Good workplaces activity, we’ve highlighted the benefits of more transparency in pay and recommended that all veterinary workplaces develop an open culture of discussing equality issues. We’ve promoted advice and guidance on how to prepare for pay negotiations and recommended that workplaces invest in training on equality and inclusion. 

This latest data is a stark reminder that the profession still has a long way to go in bridging these gaps and creating environments where everyone can thrive from graduation onwards.  As a profession that particularly attracts women, we cannot afford to sit back and wait for societal change. We should be leading the way in pay equality, not trailing behind.

For more information about paying fairly and the importance of transparency visit the reward and recognition page on the BVA Good Workplaces hub.  For further details on the SPVS survey please contact SPVS.

More information

Read the Reward and Recognition chapter on pages 38 to 41 of the BVA good veterinary workplaces policy position

For more information on why pay transparency is necessary, read this factsheet from the European commission


Watch our recent webinar on pay transparency with VDS. 

Read our recent blog on pay transparency.


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