A response from the AVMA on veterinary medicine's gender wage gap

August 19, 2016

Association counters claims in post asserting that the AVMA isn't serious about discrimination against women.

Editor's note: After we posted this letter from Dr. Marjorie McMillan on dvm360.com, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) asked for the opportunity to weigh in on the conversation. Here is their response:

Thank you for providing us with an opportunity to respond to Dr. McMillan's letter and to clarify the situation she described. It's not our intent to dismiss or minimize the difficulties that Dr. McMillan faced in her employment that led to her legal complaint against her employers; the situation appears to have left a chronic wound that was re-opened for Dr. McMillan 20 years later when the gender wage gap was brought into the spotlight by our new graduate salary calculator. It was certainly not our intent to resurface the strong emotions she must be feeling right now.

Interestingly, the gender wage gap has been present for many years, and we've reported its presence every year in our senior survey results and in our economic reports. Yet it wasn't until a visual representation of the calculator garnered attention that the long-overdue uproar among veterinarians occurred. The veterinary profession is not unique in this regard; a recent report showed that female physicians are paid $18,677 less than their male counterparts. We're pleased that the issue is top-of-mind for more veterinarians, and we've been collaborating with the Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative (WVLDI) to determine a course for researching the causes and developing solutions to achieve equal pay for equal work in the veterinary profession.

Regarding Dr. McMillan's statements, some clarification is needed. Dr. McMillan's complaint was given thorough due process by the AVMA Judicial Council when it was filed in 1995. Over the following several years, the Judicial Council-which is comprised of veterinarians-communicated frequently with Dr. McMillan regarding the complaint and the decision. The end result was that her colleagues on the council felt there were insufficient grounds for disciplinary action. The process and deliberation involved in Judicial Council review is different from that of our judicial system, and isn't intended to replace or duplicate legal proceedings. It's clear that Dr. McMillan disagrees with the council's findings, but it's inaccurate to imply that her requests for information were ignored.