Women's History Month: The First Women Diplomates of the ACVIM

Mar 11, 2024, 10:36 AM by The ACVIM

As we commemorate Women's History Month, we recognize the pivotal role that women in the veterinary profession have had in the past, and continue to have, in advancing the field of veterinary specialty medicine.

The ACVIM takes pride in acknowledging the trailblazing women who have made significant strides in the veterinary profession. In this article we highlight three of the first women Diplomates as they share their perspective on being some of the first women in veterinary specialty medicine and what initiatives they would like to see implemented in the veterinary profession to further increase representation for women veterinary professionals.

Lea Stogdale, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM)

Dr. Lea Stogdale became a Board-Certified Small Animal Internal Medicine Specialist in 1981 and has worked in emergency and private practice for over 25 years.

"There was prejudice against the 'girl' vet in dairy practice but that was soon overcome by competence. When I graduated in Australia, women made up about 10% of graduates. Now its certainly over 50%, and people are oblivious to the gender of their professionals."

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Wendy E. Vaala, VMD, DACVIM (LAIM)

Dr. Wendy Vaala became a Board-Certified Large Animal Internal Medicine Specialist in 1988. She currently works at Merck as the director of strategic development and innovation. She is especially passionate about improving the lives of dogs and cats with kidney disease.

"I think the door has opened regarding gender demographics within our profession as a whole and within internal medicine. I would like to see a focus on salary gender equity, identify where and why the biggest discrepancies occur, and support programs actively creating game-plans for work schedules for female veterinarians with young children."

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Rebecca Gompf, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Cardiology) 

Dr. Rebecca Gompf Harris became a Board-Certified Veterinary Cardiologist in 1988 and received her Bachelor's, Master’s, and DVM Degrees from The Ohio State University. She was also awarded the ACVIM Lee & Inge Pyle Service Award in 2020.

"The profession has come a long way as more women have graduated and specialized in cardiology.  Women bring a different perspective to the practice of cardiology and I feel we have shown that women can have a family and be a specialist, especially in private practice."

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