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Veterinary record open
Volume 9 | Issue 1 (December 2022)

Gender discrimination of veterinary students and its impact on career aspiration: A mixed methods approach.

Vet Rec Open. December 2022;9(1):e47.
Katie Freestone1, John Remnant2, Erica Gummery3
1 University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science Loughborough Leicestershire UK.; 2 University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science Loughborough Leicestershire UK.; 3 University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science Loughborough Leicestershire UK.
© 2022 The Authors. Veterinary Record Open published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Veterinary Association.


Introduction:As the veterinary profession has become feminised, gender discrimination and its effects have been documented in practicing veterinary surgeons. However, research on gender discrimination experienced by veterinary students and its effects on recruitment and retention remains limited. This study aimed to increase understanding of veterinary students' experiences of gender discrimination and its impact on their career aspirations.
Methods:A questionnaire including statements with Likert-style response options and free-text questions was distributed to students studying veterinary medicine and science at a UK veterinary school in September 2020 (28% response rate). Two focus groups were carried out following the questionnaire to gain a deeper insight into student experiences.
Results:Gender discrimination in a veterinary setting had been experienced by 34% of respondents, the majority (77%) on animal husbandry placements. Female students were more likely to report that their experiences of gender discrimination affected their career aspirations. Seven themes were identified from both the questionnaire and focus group data: stereotyping of certain fields, gender inequality on placements, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex, plus (LGBTQI+) community, encouraging reporting behaviours, barriers to reporting, education and the placement allocation.
Conclusions:This study highlighted that gender discrimination was prevalent during animal husbandry placements, although reporting was infrequent and perceived negatively by students. Recommendations on how veterinary schools and the wider veterinary profession can support veterinary students are made as an outcome of this work.

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