Jobs for the boys
It’s been almost twenty years since I left university. My year was one of the first which had a 50/50 mix of men and women, marking a change in the profession from the days of Herriott. Since then that trend has continued with men now being in the minority by quite a way. Strangely though this has not affected the wants and desires of the media as far as vets go.
When Vets in Practice started in 1996 there were four of us who starred in all eleven series; two men and two women and yet it is only the men who have gone on to have repeated media exposure, along with several other male vets since. Trude did well to start with but was often portrayed as ditzy and treated as someone to be ridiculed. I’ve done plenty of bits and bobs over the years but male vets well and truly have the monopoly.
Since my time on Vets in Practice I have had many programme ideas of my own which people such as journalists, vets and animal organisations have been convinced would and should get commissioned but still no joy. It seems that teaching dogs to do circus tricks is more the nation’s cup of tea. Some years ago I met a fellow female media vet with many of the same passions as me. We had big ideas we could change the way things were and get female vets the good press and exposure they deserve. We had some strong interest from production companies but when it comes to the commissioners it seems that men are still the firm favourites. Maybe the gentle female attitude to animals is too similar to my irreplaceable hero, Attenborough. The current trend of watching men wrestle unsuspecting wildlife to the ground isn’t my idea of natural history film making.
Are we really living in a world where intelligent, strong women are still too intimidating to the masses? Or are women not appealing enough to the animal-loving viewers? That seems unlikely seeing as 80% of the time they take their animals to a vet it will be a woman they see. Or is it still the age old case that women have to turn down opportunities because of family commitments? Ah you may say, it’s your choice to have children and of course you are right but the vast majority of male vets in the public eye also chose to have children. It’s just that they didn’t have to turn down filming opportunities because of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and child care. Let me assure you, it’s very frustrating to say you can’t make a programme diving with the beautiful seals off the Northumberland coast because you are 12 weeks pregnant and have already lost one baby.
So when I emerged from the other side of my child spawning years and met my fellow femme fatale I had high hopes but it seems I need to accept the status quo and, as my stronger ‘little’ sister would say, ‘suck it up’. My chance has passed, or maybe was never really there. This seems especially true when I was recently passed over for my dream job because I was too old. Having hit it off with the producer really well I once again didn’t make it past the commissioner. Funny that one of the Monopoly Men I see is about to present an almost identical programme and is over a decade older than me. Sour grapes? For sure, I hold my hands up. Frankly, I’m livid. Never mind, like the five stages of grieving I’m sure I will get over the anger, accept it and move on. In the meantime I will have to try to heed the words of Baz Lurhmann; ‘Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind, the race is long, and in the end, it is only with yourself’...