Women are a driving force in the pet industry, and we think it’s time this is a known (and celebrated) fact. From leading the way in veterinary care and dog training to entrepreneurial endeavours and start-up businesses, women continue to shape the future in lots of exciting ways.
This International Women’s Day, we’re not only celebrating the women of Waggel but also women in the wider world of the pet industry - taking a look at what it means to be successful, and how women continue to set the standard when it comes to high-level pet care.
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global celebration acknowledging the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world. IWD continues to be celebrated every year on the 8th of March and marks a call to action for gender equality and the acceleration of gender parity.
Gender equality involves ensuring people of all genders have the same opportunities, whereas gender parity calls on us to question what causes gender inequality in the first place, and what can be done to sustain inclusive and accepting spaces for all.
IWD also exists to celebrate the contributions women make to the workplace. At Waggel, more than 66% of our team are women. We’re not defined by boundaries and tradition but instead are here to shake up the insurance industry by offering accessible pet care to all. For us, International Women’s Day is about celebrating our diverse gender split across all teams and the women who make us who we are.
Our beliefs and advocation for gender equality are reflected in every aspect of how we run, especially when it comes down to the people we hire and work with on a daily basis. Simply put, we’re not constrained by stereotypes or gender roles and agree that it’s time to break tradition in an industry often criticised for its gender parity.
For a long time, veterinary care and the wider pet industry was a heavily male-dominated space. It wasn’t until the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919 that women were legally allowed to enter the veterinary profession and become registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).
This change of law paved the way for scientific breakthroughs and advancements in not only the way we treat animals but the way we care for them. In 1922, Aileen Cust became the first female member of the RCVS, even though she’d already been a qualified veterinary surgeon for 22 years.
Although the number of female vets began to rise, in 1960 women still made up less than 5% of vets throughout the UK. However, in 1990, the number of registered female veterinary surgeons boomed.
More women than ever are now training to become veterinarians in the UK, making up around 80% of new students in the field. Although women have been allowed to legally practise veterinary care since 1919, this gender shift has only taken place over the last 40 years, seeing a large number of women thrive in a space that was once restricted. At Waggel, we’re proud to be playing our part in ensuring there are places within the industry in which women can do exactly that.
Women also continue to make up a large percentage of dog trainers and dog groomers in the UK, with many taking up self-employment after the pandemic puppy boom of 2020.
In 2023, it’s now estimated that around 60% of practising vets in the UK are women. This is an amazing advancement, though it’s not just in the veterinary world that women have succeeded, it is in the entire pet industry as a whole. But what caused so many women to consider a career within this field?
There are a few reasons why the pet industry is now considered a female-led space. In 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act promoted equality of opportunities between men and women, including in the workplace. Though societal attitudes weren’t as easy to change, this Act of Parliament allowed women, for the first time ever, to be considered for the same roles as men.
The Sex Discrimination Act was further strengthened by the Equality Act of 2006 which encouraged employers to promote equal opportunities for all. With these laws in place, it became easier for women to apply and succeed in the same roles as men. For many women, this was in the world of pet care.
As more women have entered the veterinary field, more men have left. No one knows the exact cause of this phenomenon but it is considered a self-reinforcing cycle and occurs in many occupations.
It’s also important to take into consideration the change in gendered family roles that have brought more women into the pet industry.
Women are no longer expected to leave work completely to focus on family life. In addition to this, more women than ever are choosing to further their careers and education over marrying and having children. This in itself is a change that has only occurred within the last 60 years.
It’s not just women of the 20th century that have challenged gender norms in the pet space, but women of the millennial generation too. Instead of opting for parenthood in their twenties and thirties, more millennials than ever are choosing to adopt and welcome pets whilst focussing on furthering their careers.
Millennial women are shaping the future of the pet industry through the way they care for their own pets. From pet food to training, dog-friendly cafes to matching pet accessories, the pet care space has transformed and bloomed into a plethora of successful and female-led businesses and ventures that we’re proud to be associated with.
The now female-led pet industry accommodates not only the needs of pets but the wants of owners. Never has there been such an array of choices when it comes to providing for our pets and keeping them as healthy and loved as can be. From dog training support and apps to bespoke breed-specific accessories and ethical products, the sky really is the limit.
This level of care and attention to detail extends into every aspect of the pet industry and without the input of women, it’s pretty safe to say that the pet care space wouldn’t be what it is today.
There isn’t one exact reason why women are responsible for helping the pet industry thrive over recent years or why so many seek a career in this area, though there are a few suggestions.
Some put it down to biology - dogs tend to trust women more, especially those that have been abused and/or are experiencing trauma. Others suggest that women are innately more animal-friendly and animal-focused, having different instincts and higher empathy levels compared to their male counterparts. We believe that our female-weighted team benefits us, not only in this respect but in our approach to the pet industry as a whole - which is why we continue to celebrate and recognise the efforts of our team every day and not just on International Women’s Day.
Whatever the reason, many women look towards a career in the pet industry because they want to take their passion and care for animals one step further. For lots of women, they enter into the industry through a desire to provide the best care for their own pets.
This was exactly the case for Cocopup, one of Waggel’s rewards partners. Cocopup is a female-founded, London-based brand that make high-quality, on-trend pet accessories. Their designs and products have taken the world of Instagram and TikTok by storm and it’s not hard to see why. (Think beautifully designed travel mats, walking bags, bandanas, harnesses, leads, and collars.)
Speaking directly to Waggel, Cocopup shared their thoughts on what International Women’s Day means to them,
“As a brand created by dog mums for dog mums, International Women’s Day is a celebration very close to our hearts at Cocopup. We are proud to be woman-owned, have a strong team of women in the office, and have an amazing community of women who support everything we do.”
As the sister brand of Coconut Lane, a viral home and accessories brand, Cocopup has firmly established itself as a force to be reckoned with. With 135k followers on Instagram (and counting) Cocopup is leading the way in high-quality pet accessories for dogs and their owners.
With enhanced job security, great entrepreneurial opportunities, and a way to continue nurturing a love for animals, is it any wonder why so many women want to define a place on their own terms within the pet industry?
In the last few decades, working in the pet industry has proved to not only be a viable source of income but an aspirational goal for women around the world instead of just an unattainable fantasy.
Rachael Wood, veterinary nurse and Claims Champion here at Waggel explains her thoughts,
“I think it’s really important for women to work in the pet industry. For me, it's about showing support for women of the past, the women of today, and women of the future and proving that with determination and hard work, women can achieve whatever they want and whatever they set their minds to.”
International Women’s Day takes place globally on the 8th of March every year.
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