Ruff truth: Some female vets earn $100K less than male counterparts

ITHACA, N.Y. — It isn’t breaking news women have historically been paid less for the same jobs their male counterparts do. However, a new study focusing on veterinarians reveals the wage gap reaches a staggering level among that field’s top earners. Among the top quarter of high-earning animal vets, researchers from Cornell University find females make roughly $100,000 less than males each year.

“Veterinarians can take many paths in their careers, all of which affect earning potential,” says senior study author Dr. Clinton Neill in a university release.

Study authors note that this gender pay gap within the veterinary industry is especially noticeable among recent graduates. Female veterinarians moving into the top half of earners also struggle to keep up with male colleagues.

“Similar to what’s been found in the human medicine world, we found the wage gap was more prominent in the beginning of their careers but dissipates after about 25 years. This has large implications for lifetime wealth and earnings, as men will consequently have a larger sum of wealth at the end of their careers because of this,” the assistant professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences adds.

The team looked at various dimensions of operating a veterinary practice during their study, including income, experience, and specialty certification. As far as why such a large pay gap exists between male and female vets, study authors admit they can’t say for sure. However, they speculate a number of factors are at play, including societal expectations, unconscious bias, practice size, and funding.

Even owning an animal practice doesn’t help female vets

Researchers note that more males own their own veterinary practices than female vets. However, they contend this finding alone doesn’t justify the extent of the pay gap.

The report finds men even benefit when they share a practice with others. For example, while a female vet stands to make more money by entering into a practice partnership than a solo office, researchers find any form of ownership will lead to a male vet earning more money. Additionally, male vets generally earn more money after less years of experience than women.

In conclusion, study authors suggest industrywide income transparency may help close the gender pay gap.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.