Does Gender Affect Career & Salary Expectations?

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First-year veterinary students were surveyed to investigate how gender affected career and remuneration expectations. Students were asked for their expected salary at graduation and in 5-year increments postgraduation, and whether they expected to own a practice after graduation. Responses showed that although male and female students did not have significantly different initial salary expectations, men had higher expectations for yearly increases and anticipated significantly higher salaries than women 5 years or more postgraduation. A significantly greater percentage of male (74.2%) than female (48.5%) students expected to own a practice. Such differences with regard to career and remuneration may lead to differences in long-term expectations and actions over the course of a career.

It is not hard to see how students’ lower salary expectations translate into lower salaries for graduates. The author gave the example of a female veterinarian with a starting salary of $50,000 who accepts a 5-year freeze on her regular 4% raise to start a family, costing her approximately $345,000 in her 30-year career. Underestimation by women of their professional value has implications for both the profession and the individual. Those charged with mentoring students and early career veterinarians should highlight these pay gaps so that graduates can address them.

Gender differences in salary and practice ownership expectations of matriculating veterinary students. Bristol DG. JAVMA 239:329-334, 2011.

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