Skip to main content
Gender Work in a Feminized Profession: The Case of Veterinary Medicine.
Gender & Society (2010)
  • Leslie Irvine, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Jenny R Vermilya

Veterinary medicine has undergone dramatic, rapid feminization while in many ways remaining gendered masculine. With women constituting approximately half of its practitioners and nearly 80 percent of students, veterinary medicine is the most feminized of the comparable health professions. Nevertheless, the culture of veterinary medicine glorifies stereotypically masculine actions and attitudes. This article examines how women veterinarians understand the gender dynamics within the profession. Our analysis reveals that the discursive strategies available to women sustain and justify the status quo, and thus preserve hegemonic masculinity. Women use strategies previously used toward female tokens in nontraditional jobs, such as role encapsulation, and strategies previously used by male tokens in traditionally female jobs, such as distancing from the feminine. Through this discursive “gender work,” women help to maintain the institutionalized inequality and the masculine ethic of the profession. Veterinary medicine illustrates the importance of considering organizational context in studies of feminization.

  • veterinary medicine,
  • feminization,
  • occupations,
  • gender
Publication Date
Citation Information
Leslie Irvine and Jenny R Vermilya. "Gender Work in a Feminized Profession: The Case of Veterinary Medicine." Gender & Society Vol. 24 (2010)
Available at: