Setting the Record Straight: Gender Wage Gaps in Veterinary Medicine

My recent article in JAVMA is getting a lot of attention (for better or worse), but I noticed a major trend: the media article titles are very misleading. Many of the news headlines are saying “$100,000 difference between male and female earnings.” This is probably more upsetting to me, as it skews the value of the work and I want to make it clear THIS IS NOT THE AVERAGE! The reality is that the $100,000 difference is affecting those in the top 25% of earners, of which the average pay for these veterinarians is about $250,000 per year. Below is a Table from the actual paper that this statistic is pulled from:

A large portion of this group are practice owners and those with a specialty. So, not your average associate veterinarian.

Does this mean that a wage gap does not exist for the rest of the working population? Absolutely not. But the differences are much smaller. One of the largest contributing factors to the gender wage gap is returns to age. Younger men are not discounted for their age, but younger women are. What does this mean? It means that if you take two 30 year old veterinarians and they are exactly the same except their gender, the woman is likely to make less.

What I hope this study does show is that we now have research based (rather than anecdotal) evidence of the reasons for the gender wage gap. Now we can dig deeper. Why does age affect women, but not men? What explains the differences between women and men business owners? Why are partnerships better for income generation for women vs. sole proprietorships? And what do these disparities look like for underrepresented minorities in veterinary medicine? This was not an end all, be all study. It is just a start to continue research based fact finding.

If you would like to read the entire paper and don’t have access to JAVMA, you can find a PDF of the paper here:

Neill, C.L., A.T. Kakpo,and R. Mack. (2021). “The Role of Experience, Specialty Certification, and Ownership on the Gender Wage Gap for Veterinarians.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 258(6): 591 – 600. (Ungated copy here)

As always, thank you to all the new people who have connected with me and chatted with me this topics. This blog and my research is all about communicating science based work that can impact people, businesses, and policy makers. Let’s make the world more informed with good science. 

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