Theoretically final update: Chris Kelly has now resigned.
Note: Chris Kelly has now apologised for his comments and stated they were “not factual“.
Note note: Massey have deleted the apology from their Facebook and Twitter pages. Unfortunately for them The Internet Never Forgets.
If anyone still questions whether there’s a lot of demeaning, retrograde attitudes held against women in scientific fields, may I refer you to recent comments by Massey University Chancellor Chris Kelly about changes being made to their flagship veterinary courses.
Chancellor Chris Kelly told Rural News that practical studies will start in students’ first year of vet and ag degree courses.
The move on the vet degree course responds to the vet industry saying that though new vets are well qualified academically they lack practical skills, especially for rural practice.
The vet course will change a lot, says Kelly. Until now first year studies have been general and academic, emphasising chemistry, physics and biology. But in the revised course students will start learning the real ag and vet stuff in the first year.
Well that all seems very logical. You’ve got to adapt to what the industry wants, in terms of skills and requirements, giving graduates the preparation they need to hit the ground running.
But then …
Kelly says 75-85% of vet students are women and in the first year when there is a high ‘cull’ it’s the women who keep on because the work is then mainly academic.
“That’s because women mature earlier than men, work hard and pass. Whereas men find out about booze and all sorts of crazy things during their first year.
“When I went through vet school, many years ago, it was dominated by men; today it’s dominated by woman. That’s fine, but the problem is one woman graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a full-time equivalent vet throughout her life because she gets married and has a family, which is normal. So, though we’re graduating a lot of vets, we’re getting a high fallout rate later on.”
I’m sorry, what?
“the problem is one woman graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a full-time equivalent vet throughout her life …
because she gets married and has a family, which is normal.”
Does this actually need unpacking? Are we actually on the cusp of 2017 and I have to spell out why it’s so insulting, small-minded and frankly bizarre to be write off women’s professional abilities and value because they might have babies?
What about women who don’t want to have kids? What about women who enjoy more practical study than theoretical? What about women who don’t just go into veterinary science because (as implied further on in that godawful article) they love puppies and kittens and ickle babby wabbits?
I mean, I don’t want to blow Chris Kelly’s mind or anything, but even Google Image Search knows that women can be large animal vets:
Of course, this is the great lie of “meritocracy”. Whenever someone talks about the lack of representation for women in politics, on boards, in senior management positions, the answer is always “oh but we must appoint on merit.” If something is dominated by men (like, say, the leadership of our universities), if men are being paid more, that’s just how it is.
As soon as young men were being academically outpaced by women, panic sets in. The course must not be structured properly! We have to stop this plague of women dominating our industry! They’re just going to throw all those skills away and turn into baby factories once they hit 27 anyway!
And men? You should be appalled too. Because the Chancellor of Massey University thinks you’re a bunch of meatheads who can’t handle academic study:
.. men find out about booze and all sorts of crazy things during their first year.
What the hell are y’all getting up to at Massey these days?
That’s right, dudes. You just want to go off and get pissed! You don’t care about having kids, and if you do you certainly won’t want to spend any time with them! You definitely won’t ever explore flexible working options or want to change careers. You’re a good little productive economic unit, aren’t you?
I get that this is how some people think the world works. Men get to live whatever lives they like, and women only play supporting roles based around home and care. But it’s never been true, and it sure as hell isn’t how the world works in 2017. If men aren’t succeeding academically, maybe you patriarchs might want to have a word with yourselves about whether your ingrained sexist bullshit assumptions have something to do with it.
And maybe, as the Chancellor of Massey University, Chris Kelly should focus on what his institution is meant to do – deliver good tertiary education – instead of making himself look a damned fool who just got transported here by a wormhole from the 1800s.