A university chancellor has been accused of sexism after he said a female veterinary graduate is worth only "two-fifths" of a full-time veterinarian.

Massey University chancellor Chris Kelly told Rural News that a female graduate is less of a vet because she has to take time out for marriage and family. The article about practical changes in farming and vet work courses was published last week.

He has since apologised via Twitter.

Kelly told Rural News that when he went through vet school it was dominated by men.

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"Today it's dominated by women.

"That's fine, but the problem is 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.

"So, although we're graduating a lot of vets, we're getting a high fall-out rate later on."

Kelly said this in relation to the course changes encouraging a more equal gender balance in veterinarians graduating. Many men drop out in the first year leaving up to 85 per cent women. The article suggested that was because the first year was mainly academic with a focus on chemistry, physics and biology.

"That's 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," Kelly said.

“The problem is one woman graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a full-time equivalent vet throughout her life," says...

Posted by National Council of Women of New Zealand on Monday, 12 December 2016

The National Council of Women of New Zealand posted its anger at Kelly's comments to Facebook.

"If anyone is still wondering whether there's a prevalence of outdated and insulting attitudes held against women in scientific fields, check out the recent comments by Massey Uni Chancellor Chris Kelly about changes being made to their veterinary courses. #sexism"

Some of you may be aware the the Massey University chancellor has made the news for all the wrong reasons with some...

Posted by Wildbase on Monday, 12 December 2016

Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway agreed. He was surprised to read the comments considering Kelly had just employed a woman who is a qualified veterinarian to be Massey's next vice-chancellor. Professor Jan Thomas is moving from Australia to take over the vice-chancellor role next year.

"This is a shocker from Chris Kelly ... Just because Trump won doesn't mean this kind of moronic sexism is suddenly okay again," Lees-Galloway said.

Massey University posted an apology to Twitter from Kelly. He said he didn't intend to offend anyone.

"I was trying to explain changes Massey University has made over a number of years in the veterinary science programme in response to industry needs, and I also concede that the information was not factual."

Massey University communications director James Gardiner said Kelly was not available for comment but "pretty much everything he said about the vet course" was wrong.

He said the gender ratio stays the same before the course and after. Which means men aren't dropping out because they're distracted by alcohol. While female vets work an average of 37 hours a week compared to male vets' 45 that works out to be 82 per cent rather than "two-fifths", said Gardiner.

"Women traditionally take a larger role in having babies and childcare.

"I imagine if you looked across the professions [82 per cent] is not too bad."

Gardiner released a statement that outlined the facts.

• More women apply for vet pre-selection in comparison to men. Of the 340 each year the ratio is about 75-25 and the same ratio get into the programme, which had an intake of 122 this year.

• The hours of work reported by male and females vets in the industry is the same until age 30. Across all ages women working as vets report working an average of 37 hours a week and men report working an average of 45 hours a week.

• During the past 15 years the veterinary programme has undergone significant review and the programme developed during this period has a more applied approach. As with any internationally recognised programme, the University is continually reassessing needs and evaluating if changes are needed in the curriculum.

• Recently, with Government support, the number of places in the veterinary programme increased to meet the industry demand.

• The university is confident that all of its graduates, irrespective of gender, are more than adequately prepared for all areas of the veterinary workforce on completion of their examinations.