The American Veterinary Medical Association recently released a salary calculator designed to help veterinary students determine how much they would likely earn in their first year of practice. The calculator program compiles information on many different data points including the vet’s area of specialization (i.e. food animal vs companion animal practice), the location where a vet intends to practice (i.e. urban or rural), the type of employer they intend to work for, and their age. These are all seemingly standard questions one would expect to see in a salary calculator.
The surprising inclusion, however, was the step where male veterinarians were instructed to simply “continue to the next section” while women veterinarians were told to “subtract $2,406.97” from their salary based on their gender.
There was a huge backlash from female veterinarians and students when the calculator’s gender component was highlighted in the press and on social media. The uproar became so great that the AVMA issued a statement to clarify the fact that they did not in any way condone the salary gap between male and female practitioners, saying that the data point was included since it was proven to be a statistically significant factor.
Women certainly dominate the modern veterinary industry by number of practitioners, though salary equality has a long way to go. According to the AVMA the industry was 57 percent female in 2015, and that number is steadily increasing with each graduating vet school class. The salary gap is significant, however, as male veterinarians can earn tens of thousands more than their female counterparts.