150 years ago, there were no women veterinarians in the United States.
Oh, how times have changed!
At the forefront of this new era are incredible female veterinarians like Dr. Christine Royal. As a mother, former veterinarian practitioner, and now Assistant Vice President, Companion Animal and Equine Team at Merck Animal Health, she truly understands that women play an important – and necessary – role in shaping the future of veterinary medicine. In fact, according to the statistics, a massive 85% of veterinary students and 90% of veterinary technicians are female.
Yet this wasn’t always the case.
And numbers can be deceiving…Though the profession is well represented by women, the reality is that both young grads and established female vets alike often face difficulties climbing the corporate ladder when compared to their male counterparts.
As far as we’ve come historically, there is still more work to do!
Dr. Christine Royal is one such woman who has shattered the so-called “glass ceiling.” In the March issue of Vet Candy we learn about her extraordinary journey to becoming a global pet health care company leader and soak up her wisdom regarding how to ensure better inclusion, diversity, and gender balance, at all levels of veterinarian services.
Women in leadership roles: an exception to the rule
It may surprise you to know that although women greatly outnumber men in the veterinary field, a regrettably small number rise to higher management positions. That’s not to say there are no female leaders. Nor is it to suggest that women in other roles don’t fulfill leadership duties in their day-to-day tasks when dealing with pets, animals, and people.
Not at all.
Rather, what the statistics show is that companies and corporations lack diverse representation at the very top levels. From CEOs, board members and advisory panels to academia and practice ownership, seats are going unfilled.
For Dr. Christine Royal, this simply wasn’t good enough.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Auburn University, she later went on to obtain a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Royal worked in a private practice in Alabama for four years. Soon, she saw opportunities to engage in clinical research, marketing, management, and new product development.
Eventually, she even became a corporate trainer!
With every step, she pushed the boundaries of what was possible for a female veterinarian to achieve until today, where her job title is the impressive AVP, Companion Animal and Equine Team at Merck Animal Health.
Glass ceiling, you say?
Practical ways everyone can support inclusion, diversity, and gender balance
Dr. Christine Royal is living proof of what can be accomplished through hard work, determination, and of course a deep love for animals.
Today, she asks the question, “Is the mental health and wellbeing of female veterinarians being supported in the profession?” And more, what can we – people of all backgrounds and genders – do to make absolutely sure leadership roles are equally accessible to everyone?
One of Dr. Royal’s passion points are to support new grads through professional mentorship. Imposter syndrome, self-doubt, and a fear of making mistakes can be debilitating. But established veterinarians make excellent role models. By cultivating a network of mutual trust, respect, and compassion for each other, Dr. Royal believes everyone has the power to improve gender balance in the field.
“I want to leave this profession better than when I came into it,” Dr. Christine Royal says with a smile.
Surely, she is doing just that!
Thanks to astounding leaders like Dr. Royal, a new era of female veterinarian leaders is being ushered in with open arms.