2010 Archives

Male students getting rare as hen’s teeth at Ontario Veterinary College


The following is from the November 29, 2010, edition of The Toronto Star and features research by SMU Sociology Professor Anne Lincoln.

November 29, 2010

Leslie Scrivener
Feature Writer

At this time of year, as Elizabeth Lowenger scouts out new students for the venerable Ontario Veterinary College, she eyes candidates with good marks — usually the mid-80s.

Among those high achievers she’s particularly interested are those who for generations were the mainstay of veterinary medicine and now are rare as white horses — men.

She makes sure there are images of men on recruitment pamphlets and videos. When choosing students to speak on behalf of the college at high school career days, she ensures that men are included. “Everything I do has to have a male on it, but not exclusively,” says Lowenger, diversity and careers coordinator for the oldest veterinary college in Canada and the United States. “We have to make sure that they can say, ‘I can see myself there.’ ”

That might be a problem these days. Of the 114 students who entered the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program at the Guelph campus this fall, 87 per cent are women. The dean is also a woman, while the faculty is about 60 per cent male. . .

More women than men are graduating in other professions. Sixty per cent of the youngest lawyers in Ontario are women, and nearly 60 per cent of the 2010 graduates from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine are women.

Men tend to avoid professions that are dominated by women, argues Anne Lincoln, a professor of sociology at Southern Methodist University, adding that veterinary medicine was once the most male-dominated profession in the U.S. Until 1972, she reports, Cornell University capped women’s enrolment in veterinary medicine at two per year.

“There’s something about the presence of women (in the classroom) that serves as a deterrent,” she says in a phone interview. Her research, reported in the July issue of the journal Social Forces, notes that for every one per cent increase in women in veterinary college, about 1.7 fewer men apply the following year. 

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