Monday, January 04, 2010

Female Veterinarians (77%) Now Dominate Male Engineers (75%); Why Is Only One a National Crisis?

1. From the NY Times article "Math, Tech and the Women Who Don’t Love Them":

It’s no secret to anyone in Silicon Valley that math, science and technology fields remain dominated by men, despite some progress by women in recent years. Women make up 46% of the American workforce but hold just 25% of the jobs in engineering, technology and science, according to the National Science Foundation. To Sally K. Ride, a former astronaut, that persistent gender gap is a national crisis that will prove to be deeply detrimental to America’s global competitiveness.

2. From the WSJ article "Harvard Prof Wonders: Why Are There So Many Women Veterinarians?:"

Why are there so many women veterinarians? In part because educated women are drawn to professions that are providing flexibility to combine work and careers, Harvard University economist Claudia Goldin said in a lecture at the American Economic Association in Atlanta.

The increase of women in various professions since 1970 has been spectacular. But why do highly educated women enter some professions and fields more than others? “Women are 77% of all newly minted veterinarians, but they were a trivial fraction 30 years ago,” she noted.

MP: Using the "logic" of the first article above to re-write the second article:

It’s no secret to anyone in Silicon Valley that math, science and technology fields remain the veterinary field is increasingly being dominated by men women, despite some reflecting progress a significant relapse by women men in recent years. Women Men make up 46% 54% of the American workforce but hold just 25% 23% of the jobs in engineering, technology and science,veterinary science according to the National Science Foundation. To Sally K. Ride, a former astronaut, that persistent growing gender gap in favor of women is a national crisis success that will prove to be deeply detrimental beneficial to America’s global competitiveness.


At 1/04/2010 8:41 PM, Blogger randian said...

It requires more intelligence to be an engineer than to be a vet.

At 1/04/2010 8:46 PM, Blogger Buce said...

Here in Calif, much harder to get into Vet School than Med School. But Vets spend an awful lot of their time euthanizing pets. Or tweaking beasts to better serve human needs, e.g., doping horses to run faster,

At 1/04/2010 8:49 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Actually the wsj article caught a good point, in Silicon Valley 60-80 hour weeks are the expectation, (else why the fancy cafe's at the work site). Women don't see these kind of hours as attractive because they interfere with child rearing, and are localized in only a few places. Vets, by contrast can work essentially anywhere in the US, and if working for a practice, can pick their hours. Note that most of the vets are small animal (cat,dog) types not large animal types. Many may find silicon valleys stressed out lifestyle not attractive to boot (50 mi+ commutes to afford a place to live). Also many may not have a desire to conquer the world which one needs to have to make it in silicon valley startups.
Given the killer hours required in a startup, and the intense competitiveness required to make it many women may well say, take that lifestyle and put it where the sun does not shine!
Actually the science gap could be fixed real easily pay as much as wall street and there will be people flooding into the area. (Its working now for petroleum engineers where a masters degree averages 98k a year). Bill Gates and the managment types don't believe the market applies to their hires just to themselves. If there is a shortage let supply and demand happen and the problem will fix itself.

At 1/04/2010 11:20 PM, Blogger Shawn said...

i understand the tongue-in-cheekidness, but why play to the "competition" foolishness?

At 1/04/2010 11:34 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

For once you rewrite something that is economically sound but not entirely out of touch.

Good job.

At 1/05/2010 12:49 AM, Blogger Milton Recht said...

Does anybody know of a profession/job category where the reverse happened, where males became the majority of new entrants in a predominately female endeavor? Or, since women are a later entrant to outside the home workforce, where the pendulum switched from male to female then back again to male?

If it exists, it might clarify the economic and cultural gender forces at play in veterinary vs engineering jobs.


At 1/05/2010 8:12 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Ok, these spam posts above have nothing to do w/ the topic, and they're starting to increase.

If they can be taken care of, it would be good. I don't know how knockoff shoesales are a part of *this* topic.

At 1/05/2010 9:49 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Why are male engineers vs female vets an issue? Maybe because engineers impact exports and vets do not. Maybe because we effectively require a gigantic stream of immigrants to keep going as engineers, but we have no such issue in vet. Maybe because the engineering ratios have persisted for decades whereas the vet ratios are only recently flipped.

Why, Mark, what did YOU think was the reason?

At 1/05/2010 9:52 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Ok, these spam posts above have nothing to do w/ the topic, and they're starting to increase"...

Hmmm, you mean like your spam comment sethstorm? "For once you rewrite something that is economically sound but not entirely out of touch"...

At 1/05/2010 10:13 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

To Sally K. Ride, a former astronaut, that persistent gender gap is a national crisis that will prove to be deeply detrimental to America’s global competitiveness.

And this right here is why, as a woman, I don't like hiring women. I can't stand the irrational whining.

I know why my field is male dominated. Besides the math, there's also the long hours and the pressure cooker environment that's tough to juggle with pregnancy and child rearing.

The true blow to competitiveness is women suing to get hired and promoted and spending their time whining that the world doesn't cater to their desires.

At 1/05/2010 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you allow comments and don't police them (e.g. removing randian's) it only serves to deminish your otherwise interesting and clever post. I was going to forward this along and then thought better of it for that reason.

At 1/05/2010 12:10 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Anonymous: I don't think I removed Randian's comment, it still appears as the first one. I removed some spam, but didn't remove Randian's comment.

At 1/05/2010 1:23 PM, Blogger randian said...

What about my comment was spam? Just because you disagree with it doesn't make it spam. I think it an entirely defensible, if not PC, proposition.

At 1/05/2010 1:33 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...


Sorry, I think I was confused. I first thought Anonymous suggested that I had removed your comment, and I responded that I got hit with a major spam attack this morning and thought I might have removed your comment by mistake, but did not intentionally remove it.

Now I understand Anonymous to be saying that I SHOULD HAVE removed your comment.

But I was not implying that your comment was spam, sorry if it appeared that way.

I generally only remove comments that contain advertising links (spam) or ones that are extremely offensive (probably only 1 out of every 500 comments).

At 1/05/2010 3:19 PM, Anonymous Rand said...

So! Women choose to be veterinarians instead of choosing to be engineers. Both career paths are equally accessible. Where is the problem? Where is the crisis?

At 1/05/2010 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a woman who graduated from Vet School in 1978 - admitted before the Feds made it illegal to discriminate based on gender. We had 17 women out of a class of 100 students - all of us women had 4.00 undergrad gradepoints and the overall average for men would have been about 3.5. More women started to get accepted to vet school once it was no longer legal to discriminate.
That said, the current imbalance in the work force has more to do with the declining market for large animal medicine. There are fewer and fewer family farms where individual farmers care enough about individual animals to provide them with medical care. That used to be the "bread and butter" of large animal and mixed animal practice and was a fairly lucrative living for the (mostly) men who engaged in livestock practice. With the vertically integrated livestock industry today, individual animals are killed rather than treated due to overall economics. Mega-dairy farms, etc. only know their animals by number, not by name - and are less likely to invest in an animal's recovery.
Many male veterinarians dislike the "touchy-feely" nature of small/companion animal medicine and are no longer attracted to Vet School. In addition, the overall financial compensation for Vet Med is not as good as it used to be, and men generally need to make enough to be primary income earners for their families. Most small animal vets make about as much as a critical care nurse - a good salary, but given the hours and opportunity costs of Vet School not that great a deal.

At 1/06/2010 1:11 PM, Blogger NewsView said...

Worth noting: The article entirely leaves out biomedical research, which is a growth segment. Veterinarians care for lab animals and this requires additional training. It is not part time work. I have a family member who is working three jobs, including a residency, which when complete will be equivalent to 10 years of education along with the oppressive student loans to match. This family member is always on call for a lab. She never has a weekend away from the area, not even holidays.

The WSJ blog post falsely states "veterinarians require less training than doctors", which as I've pointed out above simply isn't true. Moreover, veterinarians ARE doctors as are dentists, university professors, chiropractors and many others. The proper term/comparison would have been "physicians" or "MDs". I point this out because it speaks to the sloppiness of the entire WSJ post.

And finally:

1) Animals don't talk and explain what is wrong. That makes animal medicine more challenging.
2) There is actually a saying among veterinary students that those who can't hack vet school go to medical school. Not only is it less competitive to gain entry to a MD program compared to many states lacking veterinary training opportunities, but physicians master one species whereas veterinarians must master the anatomy and physiology of many species and to remember what is toxic in terms of drugs, dosages and anesthesia to this animal but not to that one.
3) Working with animals is no job for the faint of heart. In particular, "exotics" such as large game and wildlife for zoos, labs and national parks often presents more opportunity for injury and even death. Even in a lab setting an animal intentionally infected with HIV will have to be necropsied as part of the research. This, too, puts veterinarians at risk from both live and dead animals. Remember: Animals bite and kick first. Unlike human patients, they don't ask questions first.
4) The specializations and associated residency requirements that are available in the veterinary field are just as vast, time consuming and expensive. Therefore, to evoke an image of a woman treating dogs and cats part-time at a strip-mall veterinary clinic is, at best, cliché. The childless professor at Harvard isn't showing much intelligence in her assumptions — at least not the way the WSJ blog paints it.


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