Thursday Nov 02, 2023
Thursday Nov 02, 2023
The face of veterinary medicine is evolving, with a new report by the American Veterinary Medical Association shedding light on the changing demographics within the profession. As the demand for veterinary care continues to grow, so too does the diversity of those who provide it. The report highlights notable shifts in gender and racial demographics among veterinarians, offering insight into the profession's evolving land scape.
One of the standout findings of the AVMA report is the growing gender diversity in the veterinary field. Nearly two-thirds of veterinarians are now female, while a little over one-third are male. This marks a significant change from the profession's historical gender composition.
In companion animal practice, a remarkable 73% of female veterinarians are actively engaged, compared to 65% of their male counterparts. While both genders are equally represented in equine practice (4% female and 5% male), there is a notable difference in food animal practice, where men constitute 8% of veterinarians, whereas women make up only 1%.
The AVMA report did not denote the gender demographics at executive levels throughout the profession or academia, which still appears to be favoring the male gender.
A March 2021 study from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine found an annual gender salary difference of nearly $100,000 among the top quarter of earners in the industry.
Dr. Jill Lopez, CEO of Vet Candy and ad-vocate for gender balance had this to say
"The pay disparity is most pronounced for recent graduates and the top half of earners in the field. Male veterinarians are also able to move into higher income brackets with lower levels of experience than women."
This research paper, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, used data from more than 2,700 veterinarians across the U.S. to determine income differences between men and women at various levels of experience.
The AVMA report also brings to light important trends in racial and ethnic diversity within the veterinary profession. In 2023, the majority of veterinarians, 89.3%, identified as white, whereas 10.7% identified as belonging to a minority group. This is an increase from 8% minority representation in 2019.
Within the minority group, the breakdown is as follows: Hispanic veterinarians comprise 4.1% of the profession, Asian veterinarians make up 2.5%, and Black veterinarians represent 1.2%. This increase in minority representation is a positive development, reflecting the growing recognition of the importance of diversity in the field.
In addition to the changing demographics of practicing veterinarians, the AVMA report also highlights shifts in veterinary education. According to Charlotte McKay, AVMAs associate director for statistical and geospatial analysis and senior economist, underrepresented races and ethnicities constituted only about 5% of the veterinary student population in 1980. However, recent data from the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges' 2022-23 annual report reveals a significant increase, with underrepresented students now accounting for 25% of veterinary students.
This evolution in the composition of veterinary students not only enriches the profession's diversity but also reflects the broader societal trend towards inclusivity and equal opportunity.
The latest AVMA report serves as a compelling testament to the changing demographics within the veterinary profession. The increasing gender diversity and growing representation of minority groups are indicative of a profession that is adapting to the evolving needs and values of society. These shifts promise to enhance the inclusivity, representation, and overall quality of veterinary care for all animals, while providing equal opportunities to all who aspire to serve in this essential field.