Women In Dentistry. Looking Back, Looking Forward
Published
 - January 11th, 2023

In tracing the emergence of prominent female figures in dentistry, we must begin by traveling all the way back to the 1800s, when Emeline Roberts Jones opened the first female-led dental practice in New Haven, Connecticut. 

A few short years later, in 1866, Lucy Beaman Hobbs Taylor graduated from an accredited dental college, becoming the first woman to do so. 

The courage of these women and others like them was responsible for blazing the trail that women in dentistry walk down today. 

Consider that at the end of the 19th century, less than 1% of all dental students were women. 

Over the last century that number has steadily risen, but in the last 20 years there’s been a sharp rise in representation. This is demonstrated by an impressive jump from an 84/16 men-to-women ratio in 2001 to a 66.6/33.4 split in 2019. 

And the number of women attending dental school has increased even more. 

In 1980, the total percentage of female dental students was 7%. But, in 2017, the American Dental Association (ADA) Health Policy Institute said that number was hovering around 49%. 

Those numbers are impressive, but they would disappoint in many European countries where it seems that being a dentist is predominantly female led. 

In 10 different European countries the total percentage of female dental school graduates is 70%. However, where the numbers are lacking is in leadership roles. Of all dental school deans across the US, only 18% are women, and state dental society presidents are slightly better at 28%. 

5 Key Traits of Leading Women in Dentistry

Dr. Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, executive chairwoman of the American Dental Association (ADA), has spearheaded the effort to recognize more leading women in dentistry. In 2019, she was acknowledged for doing so by taking home the Association Forum’s 2019 Woman of Influence Award. 

“Over the course of my career, it’s been gratifying to see the growth of both women dentists and women leaders. We’re not done yet, and I’m excited to work with the next generation of women,” she said.

Given today’s progressive era, it’s without a doubt that more women are sure to follow in Dr. O’Loughlin’s footsteps. To that point, listed below are the top five key traits of women in dentistry. The big question is, does this describe you or a woman in the industry you know or work with?

  1. Good Problem Solvers
  2. Strong Ability to Lead
  3. Great Communicators
  4. Innovative Thinkers
  5. They Follow Through  

When you really think about it, cultivating these qualities is a skill. Possessing each one of these traits in tandem often requires tremendous experience and sometimes even consulting an expert who has already conquered them.

Speak Directly to Female Experts in Dentistry

Although tremendous strides have been made in the last 20 years, there is still work to be done. And leading the way for female leadership within the industry is Dental Whale. 

Our organization’s top leadership consists of several leading women who have made massive strides in the industry, and we are delighted to call them members of our team.

To learn more about us, visit www.dentalwhale.com/education or leave us a comment or question below. We would love to hear from you!

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