Data on student enrolment in higher education generally highlights gendered patterns and an underrepresentation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields [1]. Although the "agricultural and veterinary sciences" (AVS) field is not considered to be properly STEM, its gender participation data are consistent with the STEM fields; in particular, in higher education, the distribution of female students enrolled in AVS indicates the percentage (2%) lower than in the STEM fields (ICT: 3%; natural science, mathematics and statistics: 5%; engineering, manufacturing and construction: 8%). Studies have found that people create professional prototypes with certain broad attributes as characteristics, capable of contributing to the definition of a professional group ([2], [3]) and influenced by variables such as prestige and gender ([4], [5]). In parallel, it has been observed that the university studies period corresponds to a crucial stage in the construction of professional identity: a moment of vocational choice consisting of an initial phase of active search for information (exploration), the second step of hierarchization of the characteristics associated with a profession (crystallization) and a final phase in which the desire to specialize and the ability to remain faithful to one's career plan are expressed (specification) [6]. The current work is part of a wider study on teaching-learning practices in a university program in Veterinary Medicine (VM) adopting Formative Educational Evaluation as a theoretical-methodological framework ([7], [8], [9], [10]). This study considered students as active participants in the process of analysis and reflection on their role as students and on their own teaching beliefs. The research question arises from the intention to investigate the accuracy of teachers' beliefs that emerged during some preliminary meetings; in particular, it concerns the relationship between the increased incidence of female students among first-year enrolled and the perception of the representation of the veterinary profession as shaped by attributes such as "empathy" with the small animal and "care". The study is conducted through exploratory research aimed to examine social representations of the veterinary profession on gender and academic year attended. 167 students (75.9% females in the first year and 73.5% in the other years) attending the VM course completed an online questionnaire containing the open-ended question "What do you consider to be the characteristics of a veterinarian?" to be answered by indicating a maximum of 3 characteristics in order of importance. The results showed that during the first year there is a vocational representation of being a veterinarian, whereas in the following years there is a representation characterised by more professional attributes. On the other hand, it emerges that "competence" and "professionalism" appear to be the "core" around which the social representations of female students (and not of male students) are organised. The study concludes by highlighting, on the one hand, the formative and transformative value of increasing awareness in students and teachers about the social representations of the veterinary profession, taking gender into account; on the other hand, a reflection is open about the guidance needs of future students.

GENDER AND REPRESENTATIONS OF THE VETERINARY PROFESSION DURING EDUCATION. AN EXPLORATORY STUDY AMONG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

Aurora Ricci
2022

Abstract

Data on student enrolment in higher education generally highlights gendered patterns and an underrepresentation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields [1]. Although the "agricultural and veterinary sciences" (AVS) field is not considered to be properly STEM, its gender participation data are consistent with the STEM fields; in particular, in higher education, the distribution of female students enrolled in AVS indicates the percentage (2%) lower than in the STEM fields (ICT: 3%; natural science, mathematics and statistics: 5%; engineering, manufacturing and construction: 8%). Studies have found that people create professional prototypes with certain broad attributes as characteristics, capable of contributing to the definition of a professional group ([2], [3]) and influenced by variables such as prestige and gender ([4], [5]). In parallel, it has been observed that the university studies period corresponds to a crucial stage in the construction of professional identity: a moment of vocational choice consisting of an initial phase of active search for information (exploration), the second step of hierarchization of the characteristics associated with a profession (crystallization) and a final phase in which the desire to specialize and the ability to remain faithful to one's career plan are expressed (specification) [6]. The current work is part of a wider study on teaching-learning practices in a university program in Veterinary Medicine (VM) adopting Formative Educational Evaluation as a theoretical-methodological framework ([7], [8], [9], [10]). This study considered students as active participants in the process of analysis and reflection on their role as students and on their own teaching beliefs. The research question arises from the intention to investigate the accuracy of teachers' beliefs that emerged during some preliminary meetings; in particular, it concerns the relationship between the increased incidence of female students among first-year enrolled and the perception of the representation of the veterinary profession as shaped by attributes such as "empathy" with the small animal and "care". The study is conducted through exploratory research aimed to examine social representations of the veterinary profession on gender and academic year attended. 167 students (75.9% females in the first year and 73.5% in the other years) attending the VM course completed an online questionnaire containing the open-ended question "What do you consider to be the characteristics of a veterinarian?" to be answered by indicating a maximum of 3 characteristics in order of importance. The results showed that during the first year there is a vocational representation of being a veterinarian, whereas in the following years there is a representation characterised by more professional attributes. On the other hand, it emerges that "competence" and "professionalism" appear to be the "core" around which the social representations of female students (and not of male students) are organised. The study concludes by highlighting, on the one hand, the formative and transformative value of increasing awareness in students and teachers about the social representations of the veterinary profession, taking gender into account; on the other hand, a reflection is open about the guidance needs of future students.
EDULEARN22 Proceedings
7417
7422
Aurora Ricci
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/893045
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