Dentists Open to Gender Profiling in Dental School Admissions

Many Say It Might Be Acceptable to Favor Male Applicants

Dental Survey Results

Drum roll please! I recently asked you if certain factors might make it legitimate for dental schools to favor male applicants – and fully 42% of you said yes! Some see it as discrimination, whereas others think it would help preserve access to care.

You can also check out Jim Du Molin’s editorial examining some of the facts about gender and dentistry.

Female Dentists Support Female Dental StudentsMale versus Female Dental Practitioners

Ah, gender…

Just as you might expect, men and women were split on this question.

It’s not terribly surprising that a dentist’s gender played a significant role in a his or her opinion on this subject.

The majority of male dentists (55%) feel it would be acceptable to profile applicants based on gender.

Only one in nine female dentists (12%) agrees.

The City Mouse Disagrees with the Country MouseUrban, suburban and rural dentists

Geographic location also played a major role.

While suburban dentists were split down the middle, urban dentists showed a preference for gender-blind admissions, and rural dentists in this survey approve of screening applicants for gender.

Dentists have no shortage of opinions on this highly charged topic…

For more insight, check out these comments!

  • “Dentistry should be embarrassed by this continued pattern of stupidity.” (Male New Mexico dentist)
  • “Since when do statistics about future work patterns determine admissions to any higher educational institutions in this country? Should unemployed college graduates not have been accepted at all because they are not working members of our society?” (Female South Carolina dentist)
  • “Women who want to be dentists should not be penalized.” (Female New York pediatric dentist)
  • “What a bunch of crap. It is surely more about the money for the dental schools; as in, how much they will get back in donations.” (Male Oregon dentist)
  • “If female dentists want to be home with their children and not practice at least 30 hours/week for at least four years, they should have to pay back to the state the amount it cost to train them.” (Female Alabama dentist)
  • “I am so tired of seeing female dentists who don’t want to work. Stop taking a spot in dental school. You have an obligation to the profession. If you only want to work part-time, be a hygienist!” (Female Ohio dental office worker)
  • “A dental shortage does exist in the US, and males who can afford to work more hours per week are a significant solution to that problem.” (Male Florida dentist)
  • “As a female dentist, I still have to deal with gender bias when it comes to associate job interviews. I am still asked to this day if I am married and do I have kids at an interview! It’s bad enough that we still have to deal with this from the ‘good old boys club.’ We don’t need it in our schools too.” (Female Florida dentist)

Read the complete
gender and dental school
survey results…

Do Women Have to Choose Between Kids and a Dental Career?

Why Some People Think Dental Schools Should Favor Male Applicants

This week I’m releasing the results of my highly controversial gender and dental school survey. I’m not taking an editorial stance on the topic, but I wanted to explore why (according to some people) a dental school might favor male applicants over female.

The primary argument is one of access to care. Evidence indicates that women with young children work fewer hours than their male colleagues. Women who attend dental school, then stop practicing once they have children, received the harshest criticism. Many would argue that her spot in dental school should have instead gone to someone who would provide more dental care to more people.

Dental school is expensive, but a dental education costs even more than the price of tuition. This is especially true at state-run schools, where much of a student’s education is provided at the public’s expense. “In light of the high taxpayer cost to train dentists and the impending shortage of dentists; if female dentists want to be home with their children and not practice at least 30 hours/week for at least four years, they should have to pay back to the state the amount it cost to train them,” opined a female dentist.

Moreover, female students are outpacing their male classmates. With more female applicants than male, many schools that want to maintain an even gender balance have had to raise the bar for female prospects while they lower it for males. Schools that practice gender-blind admissions are finding their ratio of female to male students highly skewed — more than two to one at some schools! Overall, women today make up 58% of US college students. (Read the New York Times article for more info.)

But there’s one more issue at play here, and I think it’s a lot more important than most people realize. Research has consistently shown that male alumni donate more. For this reason, dental schools will quite literally make larger profits from male graduates than female. It might not be an ideal decision-making criterion, but you can never underestimate the importance of the financial bottom line.

The most comprehensive analysis of alumni donations to graduate schools was published in 1996 by The American Journal of Economics and Sociology. The study found that a fundraiser’s best target is a man with an advanced degree from the institution. There is no magic formula, but certain factors seem to correlate with an alum’s giving. The following factors affect both the likelihood and size of a graduate’s donations:

  • Gender: Men typically donate more than women. It is not clear if this is simply because men tend to earn more, or if there are other factors at play.
  • Degree type: The most money comes from a graduate’s first doctoral degree, not the undergraduate education or any additional professional degrees.
  • Age: Alumni with graduate degrees do not typically donate much money early in their careers. However, as they accumulate more wealthy later in life, they are increasingly likely to send some back to their alma mater.
  • School ties: Having other family members who have attended the same institution (particularly a spouse) raises a graduate’s giving, as does participating in alumni events.
  • Income: Though schools rarely have direct income data on individual graduates, those with degrees in higher-paying fields tend to donate more money.
  • Business and tax cycles have been shown to influence giving.

This is a bit of a “chicken or the egg” conundrum: Given that schools have tended to target their fund-raising efforts to male alumni, is it any surprise that women donate less? There are significant financial and emotional difference between men and women when it comes to donating. (Check out an old New York Times article on the subject.)

To find out more about what today’s dentists think of gender profiling, check out our complete gender and dentistry survey results. And don’t hesitate to post your own comments below!

Gender, Dentistry, and Dental School

Male Dentists and Female Dentists Fight a Battle of the Sexes

Have you missed any of The Wealthy Dentist’s coverage of gender issues in dentistry and dental school?

Complete Survey Results: Dental School and Gender Profiling
Get the data and read dentists’ comments

Editorial: The Secret Role of Alumni Donations
Jim Du Molin thinks it comes down to the financial bottom line for dental schools

Dentist Comments: Mars and Venus Go to Dental School
Seriously folks, we couldn’t make this stuff up

More Dentist Comments: Is There a Difference Between Male and Female Dentists?
Opinions from all across the spectrum!

Male and Female Dentists: Is There Really a Difference?

It Turns Out That Gender Discrimination Is a Controversial Topic

“I think not even Jim Du Molin can survive the feminazi backlash from even asking this question!” wrote one male dentist in response to my controversial gender and dental school admissions survey.

He may be right… but I hope not. I’m doing my darnedest to handle this highly-charged topic in an objective fashion. Why cloud the issue? You all have enough passionate opinions already!

“I am a female dentist and the breadwinner in my family. I work more hours than the male counterparts in my practice,” wrote one respondent.

“We should not discriminate based solely on gender, but for every slot in a dental school that is occupied, we are going to need a reasonable output of care from that individual!” said a male dentist.

“What I observe in my area is women practicing fewer hours to commit more time to parenting. Given women’s tendency to practice part-time after becoming mothers, they are not adding to the alleged manpower shortage but helping improve access to care,” opined another male dentist.

But I’ll have more dentist comments for you next week. This week, in an effort to examine gender and dentistry in a neutral manner, I’ve reviewed the ADA’s research on the subject. It’s interesting stuff and I encourage you to check it out! But, in case you don’t, let me summarize the main points. (These numbers all come from the ADA study, which examined data from 1979 through 1999.)

Who works more hours?

  • Overall, men worked more hours.
  • Their 40-hour work weeks were 4 hours longer than the average woman’s 36 hours.
  • A 1995 study found women in private practice working about four hours per week less than men.
  • This was not the case from 1979-1985, when women dentists worked just as many hours as men.

Who works part time?

  • Women are more likely to work part-time.
  • A 1987 study found 12% of female dentists and 4% of male dentists working part-time (under 30 hours per week). The gender gap was 2.5 hours per week.
  • From 1986–1999, the study found more dentists of both genders working part time: 30% of female dentists and 14% of male dentists worked less than 32 hours per week.
  • A 1999 study reported that 34% of female dentists work part-time.

What factors make a dentist work less?

  • Having kids lead to women working less. Women with young children work about 7 hours per week less than other dentists, including men with kids and women without kids.
  • Older dentists work less. This is especially true of men. Dentists above age 55 work about five hours less per week.

What percentage of dentists are female?

  • In 1982, women comprised less than 3% of all dentists. By 1997, 13% of dentists were female. This will rise to 25% within the next 10 years.
  • In 2002, 40% of dental school students were female. (In 1982, it was only 24%.)
  • Accordingly, in the not-too-distant future, we can anticipate a profession that is roughly 60% male and 40% female.

Who works more than 42 hours a week?

  • Around 30% of men and 16% of women dentists.
  • Among younger dentists, it’s 32% of men and 20% of women.

Whew! Can you fit any more numbers in your head? Well, I hope so, because I tracked down some additional facts for you! These are courtesy of Dr. Lynn Carlisle.

  • Before 1970, almost all American dentists were male. (This was not the case in other parts of the world.)
  • Women’s liberation and birth control changed all that.
  • By 2003, 17% of practicing US dentists were female. Among new dentists, that number increases to 35%.
  • 97.7% of Utah’s dentists are male. (Wow!)
  • Between 1995 and 2005, the number of female dental school students increased by 32%, while the number of male students dropped by 2%.

It is also expected that the US will soon face a shortage of dentists. Why does Dr. Carlisle think this is the case?

  • Baby Boomer dentists will retire.
  • Dental school enrollment dropped in the 1980s.
  • Many female dentists choose to work part-time.
  • Dissatisfied dentists of both genders are leaving the profession.

I hope this provides some valuable context for this question. Stay tuned next week to find out what dentists think! In the meantime, feel free to post your comments below.


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