“That cynicism you refer to I acquired the day I discovered I was different from little boys.”

This brilliant line, scathingly delivered by Celeste Holme in the classic film, “All About Eve,” is exemplary of sharp-witted 1940’s cinema. It’s also to the point when you consider how female vets might feel when they suspect clients of rejecting their services on the basis of their gender.

Though you may consider it backwards, it’s nonetheless true that a certain portion of our hospital’s clientele refuses to see the “lady vet”—on principle.

Whenever I hear the “lady vet” line (or a similar epithet) delivered, I always wonder if the client has been given cause to shun my services. In most cases the client has never interacted with me. Despite the fact that I’ve been working in this practice as a licensed veterinarian for almost eleven years, some clients continue to reject my services—seemingly (though you can’t ever know for sure) because I’m young(er) and female.

It’s always embarrassing for me to be in the front office when clients ask not to see the “girl vet.” Somehow it doesn’t seem to bother them too much, though. It’s as if they stare right through me—or assume I would understand why I wouldn’t be their favorite vet.

So am I being sensitive? Or is this the work of true sexism? 

To be fair, it may be that my perceived youth and inexperience accounts for much of it. A preference for the vet you’ve always seen is always understandable, too. But when clients specifically ask not to see “the woman doctor” or “the new girl” it’s hard not to take it a tad personally.

“That Woman.”

That’s what one client called me yesterday. It was enough to make me wonder whether my feminine transgressions are Clintonesque and somewhat Lewinsky-ish in nature—which got me to thinking…

Should I invest in a pretty Palin-ish pair of specs? A Monica-blue labcoat? If I made my gender more of a feature perhaps I’d feel better about being the shunned one. Or is that just too cynical...?