On International Women’s Day 2021, the Australian Veterinary Association proudly celebrates women in the veterinary profession – for their contribution to animal health and welfare, and for inspiring other women to become veterinarians – one of many factors influencing the increasing representation of women in the veterinary profession in Australia.
“Becoming a vet was a lifelong dream of mine. My mom says that as soon as I could speak I would go around telling people I wanted to be a ‘vet’ as a vet. “” Our local vet was sensitive to the needs of our pets and our family – she inspired me to do so, mine Develop communication skills to serve as a public health educator, “said recently graduated veterinarian Dr. Marlena Lopez, who works in Victoria and was named AVA Veterinarian, Thought Leader of the Year 2020.
While women now make up almost three-quarters of the veterinary profession, there are still challenges for women veterinarians in terms of equal pay and access to work.
“I think the biggest challenge for women in veterinary medicine is to overcome adversity due to their gender. Women make up the majority of veterinary science graduates today, but this change has occurred over generations. The profession is still very top heavy with men and there is still a gender pay gap. “
“Sexism has yet to be removed from the veterinary profession. However, I believe that awareness of the difficulties women face across the profession and the portrayal of the role women play in it will improve over time.” he told Dr. Lopez.
The South Australian veterinarian Dr. Alejandra Arbe-Montoya works in the small animal practice, supervises the youngest veterinary graduates and is doing her doctorate in the areas of challenges to the workforce and moral distress in the veterinary profession.
After research showing that female nurses experience higher levels of moral stress in the area of human health than their male counterparts, Dr. Arbe-Montoya that this also applies to female veterinarians – an additional challenge for women to be overcome.
“Moral hardship is my greatest challenge. I have a very personal opinion of how animals should be treated in this world and society doesn’t always treat animals that way. I feel like my reason for waking up every morning is to make this world a better place for animals. There are few greater rewards than relieving the suffering of a vulnerable being who cannot stand up for himself. “
“There are other issues with the veterinary workforce, however, that add to the emotional distress and decrease the ability to cope with the emotional strain of moral and ethical stress that we face as veterinarians,” said Dr. Arbe-Montoya.
Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of veterinarians is a challenge for the veterinary profession. Veterinarians are four times more likely to commit suicide than the general public.
“The changes needed are to provide people – regardless of gender – with the tools they need to respond to moral and ethical challenges in a way that reduces the emotional burden of these situations.”
“Providing a safe space in the workplace to talk, reduce congestion, manage workloads, improve work-life balance, and reduce the financial burden on veterinarians could help us alleviate the stress of emotional stressors veterinary clinical practice including moral burden, “said Dr. Arbe-Montoya.
As we jointly raise awareness of these challenges in the veterinary profession on International Women’s Day 2021, we celebrate the successes of our female veterinarians while striving for gender equality and the best possible support for all veterinarians.
Left picture: Dr. Arbe-Montoya, right: Dr. Lopez
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