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#StandingOnHerShoulders: What the 100-year anniversary of women in the profession means to me

24 Dec 2019 | Katie Roberts


With this month being the 100-year anniversary of women being allowed to enter the profession, Katie Roberts has been thinking about the enormous difference this made.

It may seem blasé to make a comment that this change in the law has changed the lives of thousands of women over the last century, but that’s exactly what it has done.

However, I have very mixed emotions about this anniversary. I struggle to comprehend that such tangible levels of gender inequality existed in our profession such a short time ago. On the other hand, it also fills me with hope. It fills me with the hope that, 100 years from now, women in the veterinary profession will look back on 2019 and think how far they’ve come since. Maybe the gender pay gap will have been minimised. Maybe there will be more equality in high-level roles within veterinary businesses. And this extends beyond just gender equality. I hope that by the time we reach 200 years of women in this wonderful profession, we can celebrate just how equal, diverse and fair our profession has become, in all respects, for all individuals within it.

There have been so many incredible women who’ve inspired me along my journey to becoming a vet. You can ask anyone who has known me since I was a small child and they’ll tell you that I’ve always wanted to be a vet. I’ve literally never wanted to do anything else. And here I am now, enjoying my time as a part of this incredible profession. This means that over the years, I’ve had the experience to meet, and be inspired by, so many wonderful women. In fact, too many to even begin attempting to list. So instead, I’ve thought about some of the incredible ladies who are inspiring me right now, as I try to muddle my way through the trials and tribulations of vet school.

Firstly, there are my peers. When I was overwhelmed, struggling (and in all honesty, considering dropping out of vet school) in first year, the two girls I had my anatomy supervisions with showed me so much kindness. They helped me when they barely knew me and showed me a compassion which I now realise is commonplace across the whole veterinary team. The lady who was supervising us at the time is also an absolute powerhouse of a women. She would be there, through thick or thin, rain or shine, to teach us, support us and look after us. She went above and beyond what was necessary, and really helped to show me the enormous kindness there is in this community so early on. Then, there are the girls I live with, who I think are three of the most wonderful, inspirational young vets I know. They’re my rocks at vet school, and I don’t know what I’d do without any of them.

I count myself so lucky to be entering the veterinary profession at a time when there are so many strong women in positions of power. Amanda Boag and Mandisa Greene are the past and incoming Presidents of the RCVS, and are both hugely influential individuals, for whom I have an enormous amount of respect. And then there’s Daniella Dos Santos, current BVA President. Daniella has spearheaded a diversity campaign, highlighting an issue which has been ignored by the wider profession for far too long. All three of these women have taught me so much. They’ve shown me how to be a leader. How to inspire confidence in my team. And how to be a genuinely lovely, kind person at the same time.

I don’t think I really appreciated how great our veterinary community was until I undertook my role within AVS. Sometimes vet school can feel like it consumes your whole life, and that the percentage you got in your last exam is the most important thing in the world. Being a part of AVS has really helped me get some perspective, and frequently reminds me why I wanted to be a vet. These past nine months of being AVS President have been some of the best, and busiest, of my life. I’ve had the chance to meet so many incredible, inspirational individuals, and I’m so lucky to be able to call so many of them friends now.

There’s simply not enough space to mention every woman who has ever inspired me, but the likes of Ebony Escalona, Sue Paterson, Nat Scroggie, Emily Craven, and in fact, *every* vet I’ve ever seen practice with - thank you for inspiring me and reminding me why five-year-old Katie wanted to be a vet. Please never underestimate how incredible you all are.


About the author

Katie Roberts is a fifth-year vet student at Cambridge University, and the current President of the Association of Veterinary Students (AVS). When she (finally!) graduates in 18 months, she wants to go into mixed practice.


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