Dentistry has long been a male-dominated field, but – like so many other fields – that’s changing more and more by the day. In fact, The Wealthy Dentist was recently criticized for asking why men cheat; one woman replied, “Why do women cheat? It never ceases to amaze me how male-centered/egotistical the field of dentistry is. By the way, it’s the 21st century.”
Indeed it is the 21st century! These days, nearly half of dental school students are women. Even in 1962, only 1.2% of working dentists were female. Women were often considered “too weak” or “too emotional” to be dentists – because, of course, dentistry takes massive arm muscles and nerves of steel! It wasn’t until the 1970’s that women were truly welcomed into dental schools.
Some women are drawn to dentistry because of the possibility of a flexible schedule, especially when they have young children. Others point out that women’s smaller hands can allow for more precision when working in patients’ mouths. Some even feel that women, typically perceived as more sympathetic and nurturing than men, can make their patients feel more comfortable and less anxious – especially male patients who may feel pressured to act “tough” in front of a male dentist.
In fact, a new website – PinkTooth.net – was recently launched for female dentists and dental professionals. The site joins other media aimed specifically at female dental professionals, like the Woman Dentist Journal or FemaleDentists.com, a site that lets patients search for a female dentist near them.
Of course, there’s a corollary to the question “Why are so many dentists men?” Sexism is a subtle beast, difficult to track. But visit many dental practices, and you’ll find yourself wondering, “Why are so many dental hygienists female?”
Jim Du Molin