Meg deBlanc-Knowles 0

Tell Massey University that Chancellor Chris Kelly must be held responsible for his sexist comments

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UPDATE: The Chancellor has resigned

Thank-you to everyone who signed, shared, and offered support. Obviously we still have a long way to go when it comes to combating ideas like this in the veterinary industry and many others. I hope that this has at very least brought an important conversation about gender inequality in the workplace out into the open. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I am hopeful that with open discourse and hard work we can start to make some positive changes.

We would like to express our outrage regarding comments made by Chancellor Chris Kelly in an the article “Massey to go more practical” by Peter Burke, published by Rural News on December 6, 2016. In the article, Chancellor Kelly makes several blatantly sexist remarks regarding the role of women in the veterinary industry, including the assertion that “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.” Setting aside the fact that many “normal” women have no desire to marry or bear children, the assumption that women should necessarily shoulder the majority of child rearing responsibilities is incredibly outdated and offensive. This comment also fails to take into account the many different kinds of relationships that make up modern day families. These views are completely inappropriate from a person who is supposed to represent the university. It demonstrates complete disregard or ignorance of the factors perpetuating gender inequality in the workplace and should not be tolerated.

Mr. Kelly also speculates that one reason for the gender imbalance in the veterinary programme is “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.” This is another example of blatantly sexist reasoning that does a disservice to the dedication and hard work that both male and female applicants invest in order to secure a spot in the highly competitive veterinary programme. Additionally, this kind of comment speaks to a pervasive “boys will be boys” attitude, which excuses “bad” behaviour in men, while assuming that women are somehow fundamentally different beings who have no interest in blowing off steam with “booze and all sorts of crazy things.” Men and women alike work incredibly hard to earn and retain their place in the veterinary school. Indeed, the majority of students who invest considerable time and effort into securing a place in the programme do not succeed due to the extremely competitive pool of applicants. This insensitive comment dismisses their efforts as well as the efforts of those students who secured places by virtue of their academic achievements.

Mr. Kelly also seems to imply that one reason for the decline in the numbers of rural vets has to do with the male/female balance, asserting that “some struggle with some of the tasks onfarm [sic] because there is a hard, physical component in a large-animal practice.” The implication that women are less able to perform the physical components of large animal practice is laughable to the many capable large animal vets at Massey University and out in the workplace across New Zealand and the world.

We are shocked and outraged that someone speaking for an institution of higher learning would voice such blatantly sexist views. His comments are ignorant, outdated, and completely unacceptable. We demand that Chancellor Kelly answer for his words.

The original article from Rural News can be found here:

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