Nurturing females in dentistry

Columns , Current Issue
Editor’s intro: In her introduction to the summer issue, Dr. Jumoke Adedoyin discusses the importance of female role models and mentors and nurturing female dentists in implantology. 

It is estimated that by 2020, more than 30% of dentists will be women. While that seems like a small number, consider that it was a meager 3% in 1970. Clearly, over the past 50 years, great strides have been made to balance the gender gap in the dental profession. With this major paradigm shift, we are seeing more women not only in dental specialties that were once dominated by men, but also in more leadership roles — from owning their own dental practices to presiding over organized dentistry organizations. I believe that as the future of dentistry becomes more female, it will have an overwhelmingly positive impact on the industry — patients and the dental ecosystem as a whole.

However, there are still fewer women in dental specialties such as implantology, due to perceived negative notions of being seen or heard in what has historically been a male-dominated specialty. Invisible barriers still exist that need to be addressed and broken down, such as second-generation gender bias. To do this, continuing education and dialogue are needed to ensure women are included in all of the many facets of the pursuit of dental proficiency. Female dentists who step into this male-dominated specialty encounter success because they more often are better at blending “soft” skills — i.e., tapping into their nurturing and compassionate side, building collaborative and engaged teams, which together with their clinical skills are critical to Implant care success.

Life balance is still an area of struggle, not just for women in dentistry — but for every working woman out there with a family. Female dentists are able to navigate work-life balance more successfully. Dentistry offers the flexibility in scheduling needed to maintain a family life alongside a demanding career. This flexibility also allows time for pursuing continuing education studies needed to keep up-to-date with all the changes and developments in the dental profession, as well as to stay on top of new innovations and technology, so that we can always provide the best for our patients and continue growing our presence in the specialty fields.

In order to redefine the traditional gender roles within the dental profession, we need to be ready to step up and challenge the status quo; that is, step up to leadership roles to build expertise and increase our presence in academia. More females in academia would pave the way to creating a more supportive environment for women as a whole right from their first year in dental school. Glass ceilings still exist in dentistry, but we have come a very long way from what it used to be. Female dentists are here to stay, and supporting and developing the qualities they bring to the table will only strengthen the industry. There is strength in numbers, and our opinions matter, especially when it comes to issues that women dentists face. Let your voice be heard!

If you ask successful people what they did to get where they are, they’ll probably tell you they didn’t get there without the help or mentorship of another person. We have no excuse to not help one another succeed. There are a lot of amazing women in the profession who can mentor younger or less experienced female dentists by encouraging them and challenging them constantly. It’s important that as more women excel in implant dentistry, more women would be inspired to follow in their footsteps. We all need coaching; we need to see other female dentists in leadership roles that we can emulate and aspire to be like. While spending time networking and developing relationships often comes second to the priorities of home and work, our advancement as a formidable community requires a combination of skill and persistence, no matter the hurdles we face.

As we move into the future of implant dentistry, the importance of role models and mentors cannot be overemphasized. “Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” – Unknown

Welcome to the future of implant dentistry — it looks like me!

In addition to nurturing female dentists, read Dr. Adedoyin’s article about technological innovations, and how these can change patients’ lives in more ways than ever imagined for male and female dentists alike!