Most Female Food Animal Veterinarians Experience Harassment, Page 2

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“My biggest challenge: The attitudes of professors in vet school”

I graduated in 1972, spent four years in a beef/hog/dairy/some small animal practice and then moved to another state into a dairy and horse practice, where I worked until I retired in 2012. The doctor I worked for at the first practice was so overworked and crabby that many of the clients said they were glad I came to work for him, were happy to have me come to their farm and that Dr. X was now much easier to get along with after I came.

When I moved to the dairy practice I had a few amusing incidents, including one guy who said as we were walking into the barn, “Do you think women belong doing this kind of work? I don't. I wouldn't have one on the place.” (I had relatively long hair and wore earrings back when very few guys wore them.) As I was working to deliver a calf with both front legs back, the light must have dawned. He said, “It is pretty handy to be able to get two arms inside the cow, huh?”

The next time one of my male colleagues went to the farm the farmer said, “I never realized. You tell her she can come here whenever she wants.” Later on, as I was back there treating a cow IV, he was surprised that I did not mind getting blood on my hands.

By the grapevine I heard that it was actually more often the wives who were not sure about having me come around (I was single), but that died down after a while too. I am sure I made as many mistakes as any vet, but I never had any colleagues rub my nose in it.

As far as the clients, in spite of what they said in vet school about not ever admitting to a mistake or liability, the clients usually were accepting if I admitted I should have or could have done something differently. They did not like people trying to convince them that they were mistaken and not the doctor.

The most blatant discrimination I encountered was in vet school from a few instructors and professors who felt women were just “taking the vet school places and jobs away from men who would have to support a family” and would only work a few years before marrying and quitting the work force, "wasting their education." In 1972 there were very few women veterinarians on the faculty and none in large animal disciplines.

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