Veterinary medicine in the United States has changed dramatically in recent decades.
Forty years ago, cows, horses and other livestock were the primary patients.
Being a vet was regarded as a rough, dirty and sometimes dangerous job - or, in the language of the day, "a man's work."
Not any more!
Before 1972, there were fewer than 500 female veterinarians in the United States. Around that time, Congress passed several landmark education acts forbidding colleges from denying qualified women a place in their classrooms.
Almost immediately, the number of women enrolled in vet schools shot up.
"It used to be that high school guidance counselors told women, 'Well, you can't be a veterinarian,' so they wouldn't even think about it," said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, president-elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association and a professor at Texas A&M's vet school.
Today, care of large or farm animals is still a sizable industry. But the majority of vets nationwide work on the family pet, not the family farm. And modern medicine and sedatives also allow male and female veterinarians of any size to safely work on even the largest livestock.
There are many more people wishing to go to veterinary school than there are places and modern veterinary colleges now select students based mostly on academic achievement...grades in college science and agricultural courses as well as graduate level "placement" tests. For whatever reason, women are slaughtering men in academia; I understand that most valedictorians in high schools and universities across the land are female. As a result, about 70 plus percent of all veterinary students in the US are now women. This is also true of pharmacy school; Mostly women. I don't know what the percentages are for law, business, and human medical schools, but it's obvious that higher and higher percentages of successful canidates are women.
I, a previously mildly chauvanistic male, have no problem women in our profession other than to worry about the reasons for the comparatively poor performance of boys in our schools. Have they been psychologically neutered by all the P.C. changes in our education system?
My only other comment doesn't have much to do with gender...I've found many of my female colleagues are exceptionally skillful, and just as tough; but veterinary medicine ... even more so than human medicine ... requires more than book smarts. It requires a "way with animals" and a lot of skills passing tubes, catheters, applying splints, pregancy checking, palpating, and evaluating lameness'. And it's still a dirty, bloody business with long hours that can leave you bone weary. We don't have any easy way to measure these traits of potential students.
At any rate, my respects to all my female colleagues. I dedicate this page to you. Roger Ross, DVM Seneca, SC
On This Page:
"If It Weren't For Veterinarians, Women in the U.S. might not have Won The Vote!"
"If It Weren't For Women, There Might Not Be Many Veterinarians!"
Misc Articles, Comments, Facts,
and so forth about the role and experiences of women in veterinary medicine.
Comments and articles about the role of religion and culture in veterinary medicine...
Comments and articles about non whites in veterinary medicine... coming soon
There are many more links to our other pages below on your left. There is a complete directory of links at the bottom of the page.
Women say to the vet profession: "Let me in"
GENDER COMPOSITION OF THE VETERINARY PROFESSION
Until very recently, veterinary medicine was a male dominated profession. In 1930, there were only 30 women veterinary graduates in the U.S. In 1986, there were approximately 7,000, 16% of the total active veterinary work force. In 1987, 48% U.S. veterinary medical graduates of that year, 55% of all U.S. veterinary students and 57% of the students admitted to U.S. veterinary medical colleges, were women. If this trend continues, veterinary medicine soon will become a female dominated profession. The proportion of female graduates of veterinary medical colleges exceeds that of other health professions with the exception of pharmacy and nursing.
Surveys of working women veterinarians reveal that there is a tendency for more women to work parttime than men, that they are paid lower salaries, and that they have more difficulty integrating their professional and personal lives than do male veterinarians. Work force data suggests that women veterinary practitioners participate in professional activities at twothirds the level of participation of men. AVMA data shows that women veterinarians constituted 21% of the small animal practice and 22% of the college and university veterinary work forces, but only 6% to 7% of the large animal practice and 8% of the state and federal government work forces in 1986. The proportion of women in the national veterinary work force will expand rapidly if the present dominance of women among veterinary graduates is maintained. It should be noted that in the U.S.S.R for many years there have been more women than men veterinarians.
There are few reliable indicators of what the longterm implications are of the rapid change in gender composition of the veterinary medical profession. It is known, however, that women have different outlooks than men on many matters, including job satisfaction and job opportunity. Women on the average are believed to be more caring, nurturing of patients, and more sensitive to the anxieties and emotional needs of clients, than are men. These attributes may have contributed to the attraction of veterinary medicine to women as a career. Veterinary medical education has become increasingly concerned with clinical practice and has not projected in its student recruitment efforts as much concern for animal production, technological or public sector opportunities, in the profession. Thus, the changing nature of the colleges themselves may inadvertently have contributed to the increased proportion of women to men applicants. Gender probably will influence career choice after broadening the profession as visualized in this report.
Women also are thought to be less entreoreneurial than graduation, which may constrain or slow men and willing to work with less autonomy. this thesis is true, the presence of more women in the practicing profession would likely modify the strong tendency of veterinarians for independence and to work for themselves in small groups. This might have a very positive effect on improving the efficiency of the veterinary delivery system. In other professions, women have tended to be less inclined to enter research careers or in highly technological aspects of the profession as contrasted to those activities that are more people oriented.
In pharmacy a profession which also is undergoing a gender change even greater than veterinary medicine, studies reveal that graduates of the past five years function in the profession the same as do men graduates of the same period. For example, 25% of these women pharmacists are in management ranks, the same proportion as men who started working in the same period. Thus women in this group had been promoted at the same rate as men. When women pharmacists become managers, 75% have other pharmacists reporting to them, the same percentage as men. The number of reportees was 2.3 for women and 2.1 for men. Women and men pharmacists also worked in the same size and kinds of organizations. Women pharmacists who started work in the last ten years were paid on the average 90% as much per year as were men. However, when these data were converted to an hourly rate, the rate of pay for men and women pharmacists was identical. Women pharmacists have already attained equal recognition and equal rewards in their profession.
It generally is believed that the major impact of the women's movement has already been felt by the professions and that the proportion of men to women entering the health professions will stabilize at near the current level. It also is believed that generational changes in expectations of both men and women soon will eliminate inequalities in salary, working conditions and professional advancement which currently exist between men and women professionals. The change in the gender of the veterinary profession has been rapid and marked, and is one of the most important internal changes confronting the profession. The veterinary medical profession should give high priority to funding high quality social science research designed to determine what impact the gender change will have on the ability of the veterinary profession to fulfill society's needs. It has the potential for having too great an impact on the profession and its ability to serve society to be left undone.
"If It Weren't For Veterinarians, Women in the U.S. might not have Won The Vote!"
Is this true? Probably not, but there is a connection and I couldn't resist the headline.
Here's what I'm thinking:
At the turn of the century (just before and after 1900), various activist groups...mostly made up of women... were at odds with veterinarians over using animals in medical research.
Back then, these groups were called "Anti-vivisectionists". And women in general were furious when a veterianary AVMA leader testifying before congress dismissed the women in these groups as "shrill and silly" fools not willing to sacrifice a few animals in medical research in order to save millions on our farms and ranches.
But on other matters, with other activist groups, again with mostly female members, the veterinary profession (99% male) was in strong agreement: In the political fight to pass laws demanding wholesome, disease free food...especially milk and meat; women and veterinarians were in league.
In 1906, with the help of President Teddy Roosevelt, the Clean Food Act and The Meat Inspection Act were passed. I believe this was the first major polical success achieved by American Women. These were excellent, much needed laws, and most of the credit should go to the activist, political demands made by women's groups.
However, it's my humble (and it truth, mostly in the interest of humor) idea that without the support of the veterinary profession, these laws might not have passed. And further, if women and all the "lady's clubs" that organized in protest against filthy food and contaminated milk were not successful in their campaign.... here it comes .... perhaps they would have lost the political momentum that led 14 years later in winning the vote, and prohibition, and all the other issues being promoted by such groups!
Thanks God for veterinarians.
"If It Weren't For Women, There Might Not Be Many Veterinarians!"
In the semi-serious article above I contend that activist groups consisting mainly of women deserved much if not most of the credit for getting the Clean Food Act and the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 passed through Congress.
If this is true...then veterinarians owe a great deal to these women activists, because without the passage of these Food Inspection Acts it's pretty certain that many if not most fledging veterinary schools would have floundered and closed.
Animal diseases ...hog cholera, TB, Hoof & Mouth Disease, Brucellosis, Tick Fever, Glanders, Rinderpest ...some of which are dangerous to humans ...were causing tremendous economic losses during the late 1800's and early 1900's, so the country badly needed animal scientists to study and combat these problems. In charge was the Bureau of Animal Industries with Veterinarian Daniel Salmon in charge.
But almost all veterinarians were horse doctors at the time and with the historically rapid change over from a horse based economy to trucks and cars and motorized machinery, the veterinary business was in a panic and a slump.
Veterinary School admissions were down 75%.
Almost all private veterianary colleges closed their doors.
Budding veterinary programs ... including the one in my own state of South Carolina never got off the ground.
Veterinary College Deans were desperate for students and in the words of a book written in 1920 even accepted "women and Negros"!
But what saved the profession was the huge infusion of government money that was associated with the Meat Inspection Act and The Clean Food Act. Also important to the profession is that Dr Salmon of the BIA convinced Congress that these programs needed to be conducted by graduate veterinarians.
Whatever else you might be thinking about all of this, we can be extremely proud of the results:
Partly because of women's activists groups, the Clean Food Act and the Meat Inspection Act were passed.
Because of these Acts, there was and increasing demand for veterinarians ... a profession that was otherwise floundering with the demise of the horse industry. Remaining veterinary colleges started to focus on the new sciences of bacteriology, zoonotics, parasitology, and livestock health of animals other than horses.
And because of the resulting effort to combat animal and food borne diseases, we now live in a country with extremely inexpensive and wholesome food.
The veterinary profession owes a great deal to the women's groups who demanded food purity in the early 1900's.
Washington State College graduates its first female veterinarian, Catherine Elizabeth Roberts. She goes on to be the first licensed female veterinarian in California and is among only twelve in the nation at the time.
Most veterinary classes are approximately gender equal... as many or more women students as men.
Veterinary classes are predominately white women
The newer concern, especially among the politically correct crowd is engineering racial and ethnic diversity in our profession.
Black students account for just 2 percent of the nearly 9,600 students enrolled in veterinary colleges nationwide and in Canada. Asian and Hispanic students account for just 3 percent each.
As far as I can tell, though, these unequal racial and ethical numbers in our profession are NOT due to discrimination any longer. Our professional colleges are bending over backwards to entice, encourage, favor, and admit non white students.
The problem is certainly associated with historical discrimination, but also with great cultural differences in how different races, cultures, Muslims, and Asians interact with animals. These cultural and religious differences seems to be quickly dissolving and my prediction is that within the next 30-50 years there won't be any more "diversity" issues
This part of my veterinary site, though, is about history, and there's no dodging that veterinary medicine ... like most professions with the exceptions of teaching, nursing, and clerical work was dominated by white males.
But there was a big exception; starting in the 1940's, many black veterinarians have graduated from Tuskegee Institute's College of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama
Discussion about problems related to the reproductive tract such as uterine infections, False Pregnancy, lack of milk, Infection of the mammary glands and trouble giving birth. But also fun stuff like new born care. Aso about undescended testicles.
1906 Swift & Co Chicago Pres Teddy Roosevelt inspecting the plant
Hundreds of American women vets (as well as men and women from many other advanced countries) are now serving in the military service, in mission work, Farm Aid groups, and International Aid Groups helping less developed societies deal with animal care issues.
The woman above is veterinarian Major Amanda Parry of the Royal Australian Army supervising an agricultural student in Pohnpei during a mobile veterinarian civic action project for Pacific Partnership July 7, 2011.
This project included veterinarians from the United States, Australia, and Spain. All supported by the 7th Fleet of the US NAVY. Project veterinarians conduct emergency first aid to animals during natural disasters and conduct education, vaccination, deworming and other programs critical to both animal and human health.
Another picture of POHNPEI, with a veterinarian working with the Project for Pacific Partnership. This is Federated States of Micronesia Capt. Juan Mendoza of the Spanish army preparing to give a pig a shot of ivermectin (Photo By Kristopher Radder)
As an aside, the U.S. 7th Fleet is proudly involved in many humanitarian projects in the South Seas and is well trained and equipped to handle natural disasters as well as man made threats.
A great example was the incredible financial, physical, and personnel support given by the Western World in the aftermath of the December 2004 tsunami that devasted much of Indonesia. This support included the 7th Fleet and a nuclear carrier able to provide enough food, fresh water, electical power, and hospital beds for thousands of homeless victims.
The ships in our fleet are laden with enough equipment and supplies to support 15,000 Marines for one month. They are equipped with water purification machines and evaporators capable of producing more than 100,000 gallons of potable water per day and pumping it to shore from up to two miles away, road-making supplies, electrical power generators and a host of other emergency supplies and equipment.
And The Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit No. 6 from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, sent 43 medical professionals (including veterinarians) into the area to administer a range of medical assistance, including disease assessment and treatment, water-quality and food-quality testing, mosquito and insect assessment, and chemical analysis.
I'll stop writing for now but veterinarians are proudly involved in military, government, university, non profit, missionary, agricultural, 3rd world, and food safety programs all over the world. Many of these veterinarians are women.
Cardiology Heart disease in Cats, Cardiac Hypertrophy, Valvular disease, Cardiac Insufficiency, Congestive Heart Failure, Heartworm Disease, and a little history about the milestones in treating heart disease
Cats: general information page and directory of diseases and problems specific to cats including vaccine recommendations, leukemia, feline viral infections, feline upper respiratory disease and cats that just aren't feeling well.