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THE increasing proportion of women among the body of UK veterinary surgeons practising clinical medicine has been consistently highlighted in RCVS surveys (RCVS 2006, 2010, 2014a). Despite women outnumbering men in clinical practice (57 per cent versus 43 per cent) in 2014 (RCVS 2014a) they do not own veterinary practices, hold practice partnerships or leadership positions in proportions that are expected, even when adjusting for age and experience (RCVS 2014b).
Research has shown that professions with more women, or tracks within professions, tend to experience negative outcomes such as ‘male flight’, that is, a reluctance of young men to enter the profession, and suppressed pay (Reskin and Roos 1990), among others. This has been witnessed in other ‘feminised’ professions including law (Bolton and Muzio 2008) and pharmacy (Gardiner and Stowe 2006). The ‘feminisation’ (defined as comprising of 70 per cent or more females [Menckin and Winfield 2000, Sappleton 2009]) of veterinary medicine is also apparent in other countries such as Canada (Lofstedt 2003), Australia (Heath and Lanyon 1996, Heath 2007), Turkey (Basagac Gul and others 2008) and the USA (Irvine and Vermilya 2010), with research highlighting that male flight and salary stagnation in comparison to other professions has occurred in North America (Smith 2002, Lofstedt 2003, Lincoln 2010). The increasing trend towards feminisation of the UK profession and the potential implications has attracted academic …
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