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Female leaders and entrepreneurs ask “Can women vets have it all?” at BVA Congress hot topic debate

British Veterinary Association | British Veterinary Association

3 min read Partner content

BVA has announced the ‘hot topic’ session at Congress. Setting the A-Gender: women as leaders and entrepreneurs, will tackle the challenges and opportunities for a veterinary profession increasingly dominated by women.

For the first time ever, this year more than half of the respondents to the RCVS Survey of the Veterinary Profession were women. With respondents working in clinical practice being 60% female and 40% male.

And new figures from the BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey panel, released ahead of the Congress debate, reveal pronounced gender differences on a number of key issues:

- Amongst respondents who said they would not be a vet in 5 years’ time 85% of males said they would be retired as opposed to 45% of females, while five times as many women as men said they would leave the profession to pursue a different career.

- Female vets who had not followed their intended career path were also more likely than average to cite better working conditions (cited by 34%of female vets as opposed to 30% on average) or compatibility with family life (cited by 33% of female vets as opposed to 25% on average) as reasons

- While 61% of vets in general rated job-related stress as not very good or terrible, this rises to 67% of female vets and 74% of vets aged 26 - 34

Speaking in the debate Jacqui Molyneux will draw on her experience as the sixth female RCVS President in a year when no women stood for council elections. Turning this around, Ms Molyneux saw a record number of women stand the following year. Ahead of BVA Congress, Ms Molyneux said:

“Even in today's society women are led to believe they 'can't have it all' - I believe we can but we need to plan well and be flexible. Women need to be encouraged to realise they have a very important role to play in shaping the future of the profession and that their voices are valued.”
Professor Colette Henry, editor of the International Journal of Gender Entrepreneurship and Norbrook Chair of Business and Enterprise at the Royal Veterinary College from 2009-2012, will join Ms Molyneux to argue that corporatisation could open up more career opportunities and flexible leadership roles for women and men. Professor Henry commented:

“This BVA debate is particularly timely, and offers a fantastic opportunity to begin serious discussion around both the challenges and opportunities facing the increasingly feminised veterinary profession. Yes, we need more women to take up leadership roles in existing veterinary practices, and yes, we need more women to start new practices, but there is also considerable scope for innovative and entrepreneurial development beyond veterinary practice. If we do nothing, embedded masculinised stereotypes may well prevail, preventing women from taking up roles as veterinary small business leaders and entrepreneurs. This would undoubtedly have a very negative impact on the profession.”

Can, and should, women begin to shape the profession the way they want it to accommodate their lifestyle and career choices? And does this present a challenge or an opportunity for men?

All London Vet Show delegates are invited to join the debate on Friday 21 November 2014, 12.45 – 13.35, in the BVA Congress stream in the Pillar Hall.

BVA members receive 15% off the lowest advertised price for London Vet Show. To book quote your BVA membership number and the code ‘BVA19’.

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