The F-word

/ posted in: Ranting and Raving

Are you an outspoken blogger who loves talking equality, feminism, and women’s rights? Marielle and Kiersten started this link-up after noticing a lack of feminist bloggers in the community, or at least that we were able to find.  Once we started looking, we noticed they were everywhere, and wanted a way to bring them all together.  The F-Word is a monthly link-up to share your thoughts on Feminism, whether it be a story, an article, a list, or a lesson – we want to hear it!

Today’s optional topic is “What kind of sexism have you experienced in your everyday life?”

A lot of the things that I wanted to say were covered brilliantly by Katie here. Instead, I’m going to tell you a story.

A long, long time ago when I was applying to veterinary school, people realized that there was about to be a major demographic shift. More women were going to vet school then men. As men retired this meant that soon there were going to be more women than men in the profession. The sky was sure to fall!

I remember one Sunday when I was working and an older male vet decided to give me a lecture about how women were going to ruin the profession. His reason was that women only look on their jobs as a hobby because they have their husbands to support them. They will be able to undercut their male competitors because they don’t care if their businesses are profitable or not. This wasn’t a person whose opinion I respected on much of anything so I didn’t say much. I did wonder about one thing. He had employed two female veterinarians. Neither had a husband. How did they fit into his worldview? I didn’t have the nerve to ask.

It wasn’t just him though. Veterinary business magazines talked all the time about the demographic shift and what it was going to mean. Woman don’t want to work full time. They aren’t going to buy practices from retiring veterinarians. They are going to work a few years and then quit to have babies. And on and on and on….

Then around 2005 it happened. We took over. And nothing happened. Life went on as usual. Yes, more people work part time now but guess what? Men like that too. The old normal of 80 hour work weeks and being constantly on call doesn’t appeal to many people. Turns out that women can run a business too. Who’d have thunk?

  • People are getting used to seeing female doctors. I don’t get, “Look, Fluffy, you’re seeing a GIRL!” nearly as much as I did at the beginning of my career. But people still sometimes don’t realize that I’m the doctor.  I mean white coat, stethoscope, name tag, and saying my name aren’t enough of a clue for some people.
  • One time when I was working at that clinic in college, the female vet and I were trying to work on a dog that we could not get near.  As we stepped back to reassess the situation the (female) owner said, “Well, sweetie, why don’t you go ask the vet?”  I thought the vet’s head was going to spin around as she growled, “I AM THE VET!”
  • I used to work in an office with several doctors on staff at once. If I had one of the male doctors come in and consult on a case then I was done. The people would direct all questions to the male even though I was the one making the decisions. That didn’t happen if I was the one going to consult on their cases though.
  • But on the reverse side I’ve had people who won’t let men touch their animals or are super relieved when they see me because they think that men are too scary to examine animals.
  • I worked in an Amish community and never had any sexism with them.  Mennonites sometimes wouldn’t let female vets work on their animals though.
  • When I left that job a new male vet was hired to replace me at a higher salary than I had gotten specifically because he was a married man.

Overall it is getting better but we still have a way to go.