The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has been under fire recently for their online release of the New Graduate Starting Salary Calculator and the way it highlighted the gender wage disparity. Although we know the wage disparity is not the fault of the AVMA, I was disappointed that their new tool seemed to promote acceptance of the disparity. Dr. Ron DeHaven, CEO and Executive Vice President of the AVMA reached out to provide an update and clarification. – AR
Wow — did we create a commotion with the way we inserted the gender wage disparity in the online release of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) New Graduate Starting Salary Calculator! So, my first order of business is to offer our sincere apology for the angst and misunderstanding we have created. This calculator was debuted in March 2016 at the Student AVMA Symposium and we received rave reviews.
In retrospect, we realize that the difference between its in-person debut and broader release via internet was context — and we failed to sufficiently provide that context with the online release.
For those not familiar with the issue, the Salary Calculator is intended as an aid for new graduates or graduating students as they negotiate their starting salary. Based on statistically significant retrospective data, it considers a number of variables, such as geographic location, type of practice, and gender.
Specific to gender, it instructs women to subtract $2,406.97 from the mean starting salary, and therein lies the rub.
We want you to know that the Salary Calculator is a reflection of actual data; not a value statement on what “should” be. Like you, we are very upset over the gender disparity in starting salaries. We feel strongly that there is no valid reason for gender salary bias — and it is inherently unfair. AVMA firmly believes in — and will continue to advocate for — equal pay for equal work.
It is notable that we have reported on this gender salary disparity for the past 3 years, just not in the calculator format; there was very little interest created in reporting it this way. But by providing this information in the New Graduate Starting Salary Calculator, it has made this gender salary disparity more of a reality for many and really served to surface the issue and spark conversation. Ultimately, we feel raising the visibility of the issue provides a better opportunity to change behavior and positively impact the situation.
At AVMA, we are encouraging students who use this calculator to run a few scenarios and then utilize all the information gained to strategically advocate for themselves during salary negotiations. This is especially true for women, who should certainly not discount their value when determining a starting point for that initial salary discussion. We think that women should consider using the men’s starting salary as a point of beginning their salary negotiation.
Similarly, we hope that employers will use information gleaned from reviewing and discussing the New Graduate Starting Salary Calculator to reflect on any unconscious biases that might negatively impact salary negotiations and hiring practices.
To correct our earlier error in not providing sufficient context, please check out the Frequently Asked Questions document. At the top of this webpage there is a link to the calculator itself — which we have now modified with a text box to call out and better explain this gender disparity.
Rather than ignoring the problem, we feel that continued discussion on this subject is the best means to begin to make a difference. Illuminating this gender disparity in our Salary Calculator is an example of how, by highlighting an issue that is plaguing the profession, we are providing an opportunity to engage our profession in seeking potential solutions. At the same time, we’ve learned a valuable lesson — and one we won’t soon forget — about putting it all in context and making our position very clear from the get go.
About the Author
Dr. Ron DeHaven is CEO and Executive Vice President of the AVMA, a position he has held since August 2007.