Something every vet has probably heard …

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So, I’ve been back at uni for a little while now and the other day someone said something to me that I’ve heard before about 20 billion times. I don’t know whether I didn’t have my feminist brain switched on all those other times but it suddenly hit me in the face. Hard. Then it pissed me off (I know, typical feminist *insert eye roll* please excuse me while I go burn my bra).

How many of you have been sat in a lecture or been talking to a careers advisor and heard something that sounds a bit like this:

The majority of you are in this profession because you love animals, and there are some men that like the business side of things and having autonomy.

Sound familiar? Can any of you spot what might be moderately infuriating about this sentence? I’ve heard it all the way through vet school, from vet courses I went on at secondary school through to just this last week when I was getting assignment feedback. And to be clear, this isn’t an attack on any university or lecturer, I think it’s genuinely something that has been repeated for so long that no one has thought to question it. Well I have, and it’s bollocks.

How do I know it’s bollocks? Well I have it on good authority that certain women might actually like business things. Certain women may have already started making money from veterinary business things while they are still at vet school. Certain women may be writing a blog about women who like business things while not-so-discretely referring to themselves. (And before you go away from this thinking I’m rolling in it, I invested the money back into purchasing a domain for the site and buying take-aways)

A rhetoric like this is probably one of the main reasons that the number of female practice owners in the UK is disproportionate to the number of women in our profession (and if someone tries to blame this on our ability to push out babies then I will actually scream). Anyone who’s ever stepped foot inside a vet school knows that it’s full of intelligent, driven women but somewhere along the line we’re being pigeon holed into ‘just’ being clinicians (naturally, there’s no ‘just’ about it but hopefully you can see the point I’m trying to make).

Are we expecting all women in veterinary medicine to meekly float around kissing puppies while the men worry about all that tricky business stuff? I know my delicate female brain is so mushed up with all my lady hormones that I can only be a maternal caregiver and couldn’t possibly analyse practice data. Too much? Perhaps I laid it on a bit thick there but come on. Telling every new cohort of vets that come through that the business aspect of veterinary medicine only appeals to men is ridiculous. And I, for one, am calling bullshit.

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