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VETERINARY medicine is an increasingly female-dominated profession. Although the current workforce is sex balanced overall, it is highly skewed towards older male vets and younger female entrants (Fig 1) (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons 2014).
Statistics show that male school-leavers are not less successful in gaining places; they are simply not applying for veterinary degrees (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service 2014). The recent VetFutures report specifically identified the sex imbalance as “raising questions about attractiveness of veterinary medicine as a career choice for men” (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons/British Veterinary Association 2015). This study therefore looked at why, given the similarities in entry requirements and training structure, male school-leavers do not consider it as a career option equivalent to medicine or dentistry.
Various studies have looked at sex in the context of higher education decision-making, with broadly similar results. Briggs (2006) and Gross and Schäfer (2011) found that boys prioritised academic reputation, quality of staff, employment prospects and social life, whereas girls preferred courses with work placements and relied more on their own perceptions of the institution and course based on campus visits. Galotti (1995) also reported sex differences; boys being more analytical and girls relying more on intuition and ‘feel’.
A number of factors have contributed to the higher numbers of women entering veterinary medicine: …
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