Veterinary training has the biggest gender gap of any university subject grouping, according to a recent article by Nicola Woolcock, Education Correspondent, in The Times.
From James Herriot to Noel Fitzpatrick the popular image of a vet is a man with an authoritative manner getting his hands dirty.
Such figures, however, are becoming an endangered species, with female veterinary students far outnumbering their male classmates.
Significant gender gap
The ratio of applications to veterinary training related science degrees starting this autumn was seven female school leavers to every male, bigger than the imbalance in the teaching profession.
Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
Nursing is more female-dominated as an individual discipline but is classed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) as falling within subjects allied to medicine, which have three women for every man overall.
The surge in applications is mirrored by acceptance of women on to veterinary training courses, according to separate figures, also from UCAS.
The number of men starting pre-clinical veterinary medicine degrees rose by 17 per cent from 210 to 245 between 2009 and this academic year but over the same period the number of female students rose by 53 per cent, from 680 to 1,040.
Experts said that more women were training to become vets as attitudes had changed, more girls took science and maths at school and there was a greater emphasis on so-called soft skills and ethical dilemmas, as well as rigorous training.
They also said that more high-achieving men were being lured into the City because it was more lucrative than becoming a vet.
Starting salaries for investment bankers are not that much higher, on average, than for vets but their pay rises much faster.
Entry to veterinary science is highly competitive with school-leavers usually requiring three As at A level and extensive work experience.
Long degree, large debts
The degree normally lasts five years and students rack up big debts.
Experienced vets say there is a recruitment and retention crisis in the profession and that entry grades should be lower for those with aptitude.