International Women’s Day falls on 8th March in 2022 and the veterinary industry is taking the opportunity to celebrate the women who work within the profession and to applaud their efforts to encourage more women into the veterinary world. This is especially important as up to three-quarters of the world’s vets are women. However, just because women dominate the industry, it doesn’t mean that they don’t still face challenges and barriers.
Pay is one area that unbelievably is still weighted against women, with a gender pay gap being a very real issue for the female vets in the industry. In part, this is because men are more likely to hold the senior roles in practices and surgeries and also on boards and organisations peripheral to the industry.
Another issue facing women is that there is research to show that female nurses are more likely to face moral distress as part of their work. It has been hypothesised that this also applies to women in the veterinary world. The research suggests that this is because women are more likely to have higher emotional intelligence and to empathise with the suffering of the animals that they are treating.
This research is important because statistically veterinarians are four times more likely to take their own lives than members of the general public. Many feel that this points towards change being needed to support the profession and to reduce the emotional burdens that they face. Key to this are issues such as making workspaces a safe space for sharing, reducing the burden of too much work, improving work life balance and supporting vets with financial issues. It would be a fitting celebration of International Women’s Day if such topics were front and centre on this day.