Nowadays, women are the majority of students entering veterinary schools in the United States. When I was in high school and started shadowing in the veterinary hospital, all my mentors were males. I did not have a female veterinarian role model until my senior year when I met an animal science professor and veterinarian. I was so excited to do volunteer work at her veterinary camp. That was the first time I learned about veterinary medicine from a female Hispanic doctor (Dr. Sanabria). She motivated me and wrote letters of recommendation for my vet school application.
In veterinary school, my class had more females than males. I was amazed to see that, and I thought it would be the opposite. Most of my female classmates decided to pursue a career in small animal practice or specialized. A few chose alternative career paths such as food production, mixed animal practice, or lab medicine.
As a woman in veterinary medicine, I have realized how this profession can be more challenging. I was told I was not strong enough to work with farm animals in a school externship because I was a woman. I was also told that mostly males led the veterinary field, and I needed to get used to that. I never agreed with those statements because I believe that female veterinarians are true role models.
I had two outstanding professors who were the first female Afro-American veterinary specialists: a veterinary boarded radiologist and a veterinary pathologist. They remind me that there is a place for us to shine and empower other female doctors.
But there are more challenges women face in veterinary medicine, like unequal pay, harassment in the workplace, less credibility, and gender stereotyping comments—not to mention limited benefits and a lack of work-life balance for moms who are also veterinarians. Many vet moms prefer to work as relief veterinarians and create their schedules to spend more time with their families.
Lastly, like female veterinarians, we are responsible for changing and inspiring female youth.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Read more by Maria.