Massey University chancellor slammed for 'sexist' remarks

Chancellor Chris Kelly (
Chancellor Chris Kelly (

There are calls for the head of Massey University to resign after he said female vet graduates are worth "two-fifths" of a full-time equivalent vet.

In an interview Massey's chancellor Chris Kelly told Rural News about future changes for agriculture and veterinary students at the university.

"...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," he said.

"So, though we're graduating a lot of vets, we're getting a high fallout rate later on."

Mr Kelly has since apologised for the comments on social media, saying: "I concede that the information was not factual." 

But the apology has been met with calls for more serious action.

"As an employee, I can face serious consequences if I bring the university into disrepute," Massey University tax lecturer Deborah Russell has tweeted.

"Just absolutely ridiculous. Someone who thinks women are only worth 40% of men for literally the same training, should NOT be a Chancellor [sic]," Julie Blommaert wrote on Facebook.

"Not good enough! He needs to go... Why is this dinosaur leading our future!" Michelle Williams wrote.

Female vets have spoken out and the Massey University Facebook page has been inundated with posts criticising Mr Kelly's comments.

Massey-based wildlife hospital Wildbase has posted a picture of its female staff, saying: "Some of you may be aware the Massey University chancellor has made the news for all the wrong reasons with some incredibly sexist, dated and misogynistic views on women in veterinary science. We thought it was worth posting the current Wildbase team of vets and veterinary technicians who are awesome 100% of the time. Not our chancellor!"

In the interview Mr Kelly said 75-85 percent of vet students are women, who survive the first year of study because it is mostly academic.

"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."

Many believe Mr Kelly was suggesting female vets could not cope with farm animal work, when he said: "Some struggle with some of the tasks onfarm because there is a hard, physical component in a large-animal practice."

In response Massey veterinary graduate Jess McDowell wrote on Facebook: "I've spent my career so far working hard to make sure I'm seen by farmers to be "as good as the boys". I don't need the chancellor of my university reinforcing to them the idea that because I'm a girl I can't physically cope with large animal practice or shouldn't be given the same opportunities because I might one day choose to have a family."

Massey University communications director James Gardiner says the University is satisfied with the apology but any further action would be up to the council.