Business Briefs: Is There a Gender Wage Gap in Equine Practice?  

Continued efforts to understand the gender wage gap in equine practice are imperative to ensure a bright future for all veterinarians.
Female equine veterinarian representing the gender wage gap in equine practice.
The gender wage gap appears to have shifted recently for early-career equine veterinarians, with male and female 2023 graduates being offered similar starting salaries for associate positions. | Getty Images

Gender disparity in wages for equal work exists across the globe and in many professional career fields, including veterinary medicine. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Organization on the gender wage gap, women working full time in the United States in 2022 typically earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, an improvement of $0.02 cents in 20 years. At this slow pace of improvement, it will take about 132 more years for women to reach pay equality. Until then, the gender wage gap will continue to impact women in all fields and industries, impairing their financial security and quality of life through retirement.  

Gender Wage Gap in Veterinary Medicine

According to research by the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine, veterinary medicine also has a gender wage gap, primarily affecting recent graduates and the top half of earners. According to Clinton Neill, PhD, senior author on the research paper, “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. For the top quarter of earners, the annual difference is approximately $100,000.”   

Gender Wage Gap in Other Professions

Many professions struggle with pay differences between genders. According to the 2022 Medscape Physicians Compensation Report, male primary care physicians earned 25% more than their female colleagues, with male doctors earning an average of $57,000 more than females. The gap widens to 31% in the specialties. The dentistry profession also has a pay gap, with median annual earnings of $167,574 for men and $140,040 for women dentists.  Attorneys face wage gaps as well, with a 44% pay difference between male and female law partners.   

Equine Practice Compensation Surveys

The AAEP Commission on Equine Veterinary Sustainability’s Compensation Subcommittee released a survey on compensation in 2022, and the results showed distinct gender differences in equine veterinarians’ earnings. Across all respondents and graduation years, there was a negative disparity in female wages compared to male wages, but the disparity was less during the entry-level decade compared to nearly all the later decades. While the reasons for compensation differences in equine veterinary practice are unclear, the data on divergence in revenue production despite similar work hours suggest the gap occurs for reasons unrelated to time spent working.   

In a positive development, the wage gap appears to have shifted recently for early-career equine veterinarians, as the 2023 AVMA Senior Survey revealed male 2023 graduates entering associate positions without an internship were offered $93,286, and females were offered $94,687. Continued efforts to understand the reasons for gender differences in compensation and revenue production in equine veterinary medicine are imperative to ensure a bright future for all who embark on this career. 

Disclaimer from sponsor: This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit (collectively, “Synchrony”), make no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in this article are the sole opinions of the author and roundtable participants. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

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