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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Men Running From Women

Veterinary medicine has become interesting regarding gender shifts.  In 1960 the profession was 98% male.  Today it's 50.9% female.  From 1976 to 1995 the enrollment rate of men entering veterinary school decreased by more than half and the female applicants doubled.  Currently enrollment in US vet schools is 70-80% female, and 2009 was the first year that women menbers of the American Veterinary Medical Association outnumbered men.  It's no secret to anyone paying attention that this has become and will increasingly become a female-dominated profession.

The question is "why?"  Most people have explained the shift in gender demographics in relation to women's rights, changing gender perceptions, acceptance of women in medicine, lower wages discouraging men, and other similar factors.  But a recent report suggests another reason.  To quote the article from DVM Magazine...

Research suggests that men avoid college majors and graduate fields that are 24 to 54 percent female, Lincoln points out in her study. On college visits, men who see a classroom full of women may be intimidated to apply—a theory backed by statistics collected for the study.

"The explanation of reduced barriers to admission for women has merit, although it fails to explain why other professions that have also eliminated that bias have not feminized or not at the same rate," Lincoln argues. "The results of this study demonstrate only one consistent difference between male and female application patterns—men's strong negative response to women's increasing enrollment."

Feminization of the veterinary profession has been fueled more by lower rates of college graduation among men and their aversion to female students than women being attracted to the field, Lincoln says. Similar trends have been noted in fields now dominated by women, like pharmacy, she adds. The trend now may also be extending to human medicine, with female applicants to American medical schools surpassing those of men for the first time in 2003. Wage stagnation over the last two decades has been linked as a factor in that case, with men more often choosing the more lucrative fields of business or law over medicine. Men also tend to revise their career plans based on decline in occupational prestige, employment security and promotional prospects, Lincoln adds.

Very interesting conclusions!  According to the study, for every 1% increase in the female veterinary student body there will be a 1.7% decrease in male applications the following year.  So the decline in male veterinarians may be because they're scared to work in a profession dominated by women!  Personally I haven't seen that attitude among my male colleagues, but then we're the ones who actually did apply and therefore seem to be the exception to the data in this study.

Women, here's your proof that men really are the weaker and more easily intimidated sex!


  1. Here's a different spin on it (out of my weird brain). Think about how many of veterinary clients are women bringing in their animals (especially in the small animal veterinary practice). I've found that there are many instances where women would rather see a woman (doc or vet) than a man if that choice exists. Not always but could that also play a part? Dunno!

  2. I wonder if part of the deal could be the shift away from large animal medicine too. As you well know there are shortages everywhere of vets treating large animals. I think (uneducated guess) that most of these LA vets in the past have been men. Small Animal medicine seems to be the choice for most students these days... and is that the chicken before the egg question?!

  3. @ Tammy, I am a female veterinary student pursuing LA medicine, and many of my female classmates are as well, at least 25-30% of us. Many of the men in our class are pursuing small animal medicine or academia/research. We do have shortages, supposedly, but they are speculated and haven't been proven by there not being a lot of jobs out there for graduating LA medicine vets.
    As for men running away from women, I think it is funny, why wouldn't men pursue a profession where the girl ratio is much higher than the guy ratio, you think they would be lining up for the opportunity and I feel as though none of my male classmates are intimidated, lol!

  4. I am a female large animal veterinarian. The "shortage" is a lie, and I think it's criminal to send new graduates into the world with enormous debt that will be impossible to service because salaries remain static.

    Those who complain about large animal veterinary shortages are the same people who page us once a year with a half-dead animal, are startled to hear the estimated bill will be >$100, and, at best, decide to shoot the poor beast instead.

  5. Just confirms that (some) men are happy to have us as live-in cooks/maids and sex toys, but not to work with or otherwise interact with us as human beings.


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