Female students offended by scholarship program that prioritized men

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Of the total number of employed veterinarians in Australia, 19 percent are male (full time) and 3 percent part time. Females on the other hand make up 48% of full time employees and 30 percent of part time workers. Based on this and several other factors, Australia’s University of Sydney decided to give priority to men in regards to its Veterinary science scholarship. Some female students are not very happy about this.

The new $27,000 scholarship will give priority to males students, students from rural and regional areas and students from Australia, the scholarship’s information page states.

To be eligible for this scholarship you must be enrolled in the DVM in the year of award and preference will be given to applicants who are:

• From rural or regional areas;

• Male;

• Interested in large animal practice and intend to work in rural veterinary science;

• An Australian citizen

The Sydney Morning Harold reports that that female vet students were “horrified” by the university’s decision.

A female Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student told reporters that she was surprised by the prioritization of men over women, and that she expected better from the university.

From the article:

A female Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student, who asked not to be named, said: “I was really surprised. I really thought that it was a mistake – some sort of clerical error. Sexism exists in our society but I thought the uni held itself to a higher standard.”

Gender balance in vet science as a profession has reversed in the past 20 years from male to female-dominated, but the student said this did not justify the scholarship’s terms.

“Female graduates of vet school are still paid less, from day one,” she said. “Professor Edwards was a lovely man who did a lot of fabulous work. This is not about hurting his reputation.

“To have male-only scholarships is to continue male privilege within society,”

The university however, is standing by their decision, as they believe that the scholarship complies with current discriminatory laws. The university says the purpose of the scholarship is to address the under-representation of men in the sector.

A spokeswoman for the university said it was “confident” the scholarship complied with discrimination laws.

“The inclusion of males as one of a number of preferences by the donor is to address the current under-representation of males in the student cohort,” she said.

“As such, it is consistent with the university’s support of actions to address diversity and the under-representation of males or females in certain disciplines or professions.”

She said women were still eligible to apply, and that academic excellence would be “prioritised”.

“Of this year’s graduate entry for the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students, over 90 per cent of the intake is expected to be female. This is a trend seen over the past five years along with an increasing trend away from rural practice.”

Veterinary science used to be male dominated in the past, however, a gender shift has occurred in the past few decades. A 2013 report by the Australian Veterinary Association noted the dramatic gender shift in vet science professionals since the 1980s.