Female Leaders within Veterinary Science

Within the Veterinary Industry, a remarkable transformation is underway with the rise of female leadership. In an area long dominated by men, this is an exciting trend to see how far women have come. Today, female veterinarians are leading with empathy, innovation, and a deep-seated passion for animal welfare.

More women than man are now entering the profession

One of the key drivers behind the surge in female leadership within the veterinary field is the increasing number of women entering the profession. According to recent statistics, 80% of veterinary students are now female, and women outnumber men in the field globally, comprising 60% of registered vets. A trend that has been steadily growing over the past few decades. As more women enter the profession, they naturally ascend into leadership roles, bringing with them fresh perspectives and a diverse skill set.

We had the pleasure to speak with Bridget Rollins, COO, Innovetive Petcare and Jessica Bird, VP of Recruiting, Western Veterinary Group, two women that are proving to be inspiring female role models for the Animal Health industry. They shared how female leadership has seen significant progress and the tools and guidance that has got them there.

Working within the Veterinary space, one thing that always stands out is the passion people have for the industry and the love we have for our animals across the nation. For Bridget Rollins COO, Innovetive Petcare, it was her passion for the industry and knowing there was nothing else she wanted to do that was the biggest driver for her success.

Self-belief and mentorship

Bridget advises that communication techniques were crucial to becoming a successful female leader. We expect people to treat us a certain way, but we don’t always have the tools on how to handle challenging situations. “Always be your own advocate and know your value and self-worth. Never compromise when that is challenged. Be willing to walk the line and be willing to walk away. When you have that confidence you will be amazed how much more willing people are to give to you. Generally speaking women are less likely to advocate for themselves then men are. Meaning in negotiations men are more comfortable asking for more aggressive pay compensation packages than women.”

There are many female role models in the veterinary space as well as successful female led companies because of the impact of female mentorship in empowering women. Jessica Bird, VP of Recruiting at Western Veterinary Partners, a veterinary support organization led by female CEO, Carollee Brinkman shared, “Mentorship is critical to personal and professional development and can shape the trajectory and career path of women from diverse backgrounds, mine included. My journey with Western Veterinary Partners has been transformative, much in part by the incredible leadership of our CEO, Carollee Brinkman. When I joined WVP four years ago, I thought my previous experience including veterinary technician, hospital manager and DVM recruiter had prepared me for a department leadership role.  I learned early on that I tended to be a more reactive leader ( I was focused on ’putting out fires’) instead of a proactive leader.

“It took Carollee’s guidance to make me realize the importance of leading with grace to ensure the entire team’s success. She taught me that as a leader, it’s okay not to have all the answers, and there’s strength in leaning on others for guidance and support.  As Carollee wisely says, ’Good people attract good people’ emphasizing the importance of fostering a collaborative and supportive culture so that everyone feels safe and valued.  I strive to cultivate that each and every day.”

How the hiring process can have a positive impact on diversity

Diversity is an ongoing challenge across all industries and where we can make a positive change is within the hiring process. It is about having an effective strategy for gender diversity and inclusion. Speaking with Jessica, it was interesting to know how do companies incorporate this and embed it into their culture?

“At Western Veterinary Partners, our journey towards promoting gender diversity is deeply personal. We don’t just adopt inclusive policies; we weave them into the fabric of our culture. Our hiring practices are not just unbiased; they’re an expression of our commitment to equality. Through mentorship programs tailored to the unique needs of the veterinary industry and strategic partnerships with Pride VMC and NOMV, we actively shape an environment where everyone can thrive.

“Transparent communication about equal pay initiatives is not just a conversation; it’s a pledge. Embracing flexible work arrangements isn’t just a policy; it’s a recognition of individual needs and aspirations. By passionately implementing these measures, we’re not just fostering a workplace; we’re fostering a team culture—a team that values, supports, and propels every member toward professional advancement and success within the veterinary community.”

Paving the way forward

Bridget highlighted that, “Organisations are focused on DEI these days, predominantly gender, so we should want to see women progress. We should want to see more women progress to be at the table and participate in the decisions that impact the hospitals. Sadly, for some female’s they will hit that glass ceiling and no longer attempt to keep going or leave the industry completely. We cannot let that happen.”

Engaging with inspiring women like Bridget Rollins and Jessica Bird highlights the progress made for female leaders in the field. The increasing number of women entering the veterinary profession is driving this surge in female leadership, bringing fresh perspectives and diverse skills. However, to ensure this trend continues, it’s crucial to address them through initiatives like mentorship and support networks.

As we navigate these challenges and opportunities, it’s essential to continue sharing experiences and supporting each other as female role models in the veterinary space. Together, we can create a more inclusive and empowering environment for all.

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