Gender Study

Gender Assessment of Veterinary Services in South-East Asia


In some countries, up to 70% of public or private vets are women.

Download the 2023 report

25 Jul 2023 (Thailand) – The feminisation of historically masculine veterinary professions continues in South-East Asia (SEA).

This trend was first identified by WOAH in 2015, when an initial Gender Assessment of Veterinary Services in SEA was conducted, and it continues today. Thanks to the support of Australia, another similar study was commissioned by WOAH in 2023 to assess the progress and identify potential gaps.

The new findings confirm that the numbers of women professionals in the animal health sector continue to grow. Currently, out of the 12 countries that participated in the study, one-third have women animal health professionals outnumbering men, one-third have equal or nearly equal numbers of women and men, and one-third have men animal health professionals outnumbering women.

In addition, while 2015 report was showing that women students represented about 60%-70% of pre-service veterinarians in 4 countries of the region, according to all interviewed academics, women students currently represent about 70%-80% in most of the assessed countries. 

Women are largely represented among Veterinary Services in South-East Asia.

Women students currently represent about 70%-80% in most of the assessed countries of the study.

Despite this consistent rise in numbers, the animal health sector’s culture, institutions, and policies are yet to be adjusted to this change. Most of the existing policies do not explicitly take into account gender considerations. 

While it can be said that progress has been made towards empowerment of women between 2015 and 2023 in the veterinary sector in SEA, efforts are still needed to adjust the institutional practices and address stereotypes. If this is not done, the industry may miss a substantive number of capable employees. 

We encourage everyone to read the full report, the main trends identified as well as its recommendations. 


Report 2015

Report 2023

Summary of main trends identified by the study


Gender composition of veterinarian sector: 

  • As noted in 2015, veterinary professions continue to feminise in South-East Asia.  
  • In some instances, women occupy top-tier positions (there were none reported in 2015). 
  • Men occupy most of the positions that emphasise physical work in remote areas. 

Perception of Gender equality: 

  • The majority of respondents believed that women are not impacted by gender inequality within the veterinary sector in their countries; however, respondents also provided examples of how gender did affect them. The factors that could have affected respondents’ views are: specifics of the sample group, potential low awareness of inequality. Additional research could be helpful to understand these views in more nuance.  


  • The trend, reported in 2015, continues: women vet students outnumber men.  
  • Despite the availability of governmental support for higher education, veterinary education may be inaccessible for women from less advantaged groups, especially from the countries that don’t have their own VEEs. 
  • The majority of surveyed students expressed satisfaction with how their programs are preparing them for work; however, 80% wanted to have more hands-on learning. 
  • One quarter of surveyed students report experiencing different treatment because of their gender. 
  • Veterinary students may not be receiving adequate preparation to address gender considerations within their profession. 

Early career: 

  • More women tend to select the veterinary profession because of love for animals, pragmatic, financial and intellectual reasons, while more men brought up reasons related to the desire to contribute to human health and well-being. 
  • The ideal work scenario for majority of current women students was working for private clinic dealing with small pets (39%); two second popular answers were working for a private company dealing with farm animals (17%) and working for the government (17%). 
  • More women vets and VPPs find their first jobs quickly compared to men; however, young women experience more discrimination in the onset of their careers because of compounding effects of age and gender. Having a mentor or a woman role model helps young women to overcome early-career challenges. 

Career Progression: 

  • Men and women have similar number of moves between organisations; about one third of both, men and women respondents were in their first workplace. 
  • The most popular reason to choose the current workplace was proximity to one’s family; this was number one reason for women, and second most popular reason for men. 
  • Women appear to be facing stagnation in promotion and salary increase more often than men. 
  • One quarter of all surveyed women who are currently working reported being treated differently because of their gender; the reported instances vary from minor incidents to serious violations such as denying promotion, bullying by clients or sexual harassment. 

Women in Leadership positions: 

  • Women in the veterinary sector face a “glass ceiling”: it is difficult for them to raise beyond a certain level in professional hierarchy. 
  • The major constraints for women are:  
  • higher pressure to prove their competencies compared to men,  
  • expectation of even longer working hours at higher managerial levels,  
  • cultural preferences towards men leaders,  
  • limited institutional support enabling to utilize career growth opportunities,  
  • less informal networking opportunities with decision makers. 
  • Institutional enabling factors that support women in implementing their role as family caregivers have positive impact on women’s career growth.  

Women on Farms: 

  • There is a stereotype that women are not fit to work on farms. 
  • About 65% of all women student survey respondents indicated that they are likely to apply for a job in a countryside after graduation.  
  • Women students are discouraged from working with farm animals during education. 
  • If the stereotype about women not being fit to work on farms is not addressed within the educational system, in the future, the industry will miss a substantive number of capable employees, while women will have less options for career development. 

Work-Life Balance and Professional Burn Out: 

  • 40% of all respondents reported problems in maintaining work-life balance; this problem is equally significant for men and women. 
  • The main challenges are rooted in the nature of the profession, with work often “spilling over” into personal life; institutional support to address this issue is lacking. 
  • An alarming number of vets and VPPs (about 40%) – men and women alike – may be facing professional burn out at some point of their careers. 

Gender Policy: 

  • Almost half of in-service survey respondents reported that there is no gender policy in the organisation where they work.