Are male vets worth more than female vets?

Posted on December 09, 2015 by Gudrun Ravetz

Would you give your son 10% more pocket money than your daughter (for the sake of the argument let’s presume they are the same age)?

We are in a profession that is becoming feminised. Does that matter?

Gender pay gaps in the veterinary profession

Vet examining a catThe 2015 Vet Futures survey found that more male vets in the up to eight years graduated age range were paid over £41,000, compared to female vets of the same age. The Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) salary survey 2014 also showed a gender pay gap of 10% in favour of men.

We would be naive to think that feminisation will have no change on the status quo of the profession.

Professor Colette Henry at BVA Congress 2014 detailed how the leadership characteristics of women may fit very well with the changing ownership models within the profession. She advised that women may make better team builders, better understand family responsibilities and be more effective leaders. Muzio and Bolton discussed that feminisation of law and management “….encouraged a more participatory and consensual working culture and a more empathetic approach to management.”

Vet mums more likely to work part time

However, the RCVS Survey of the Veterinary Professions 2014 (992 KB PDF) found that women are more likely to work part time than men (26% compared with 11%) although the biggest growth in part time working in the last four years is from men (5% in 2010 to 11% in 2014).

Women may have children but legally apart from the first six weeks of the child’s maternity leave can be taken by either parent or shared. Sadly, less than 5% of dads take more than two weeks’ paternity leave and so at present there is a likelihood that vet mums may take more time out of their career for childcare than vet dads. Does this matter or do we need to embrace changing working patterns for all our vets?

Different, non-traditional shift patterns may work well around the school run. But it is not all about accommodating for families, it is about accommodating working patterns that are right for employees and the employer no matter what they want to do with their leisure time.

Understanding changing working patterns

At present much of our understanding of the potential impact of feminisation on the profession is anecdotal and subjective. This is the same for our understanding of the recruitment challenges that employers and employees are experiencing and it is important that we do not negatively link the two based on assumption. Correlation does not imply causation.

BVA has led a number of debates and activities on the issue of feminisation and is committed to understanding the many factors that are contributing to the changing working patterns and employment satisfaction levels that are evidenced in surveys.

I am proud that BVA and every vet, both employee and employer, that I have spoken with want to commit to getting objective evidence regarding the changing nature of the veterinary workplace, including feminisation. Evidence can then lead to meaningful, positive actions.


You may also be interested in Professor Henry's blog post Veterinary business leadership: an unsuitable job for a woman?

See our guidance on maternity and paternity rights and obligations for further information on shared parental leave. 

Gudrun Ravetz

Written by Gudrun Ravetz

BVA past President

Gudrun currently works as a Veterinary Consultant for Denplan and is an interviewer for prospective students at University of Liverpool. Gudrun was previously President of the Society for Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS). Follow @RavetzGudrun on Twitter.