The professional blog of Doctors Dan Bruce, Steve Bruce, Rosa Pothier and Rob Ririe
Women in Dentistry
There’s no doubt that the face of dentistry is rapidly evolving. Historically, it has been a male dominated profession but that standard has been shifting with increasing numbers of women choosing to pursue a career as a dentist. According to a 2016 article published by the American Dental Association, only 1.1 percent of dental students were female in 1968 with a slight increase to 15.9 percent in 1978. Fast forward to the 2016-2017 graduating class, and it is clear that demographic has shifted drastically in a very short period of time with 49.1 percent of these graduates being female. As in any other aspect of life, this diversity is a good thing and has brought many positive aspects to our profession. Surprisingly however, this demographic continues to be less apparent in Idaho where currently less than 10 percent of dentists are females. Because of this lag, the problems that still face female dentists across the country including lack of representation in leadership roles and education, challenging physical ergonomics, continued limited networking and mentorship avenues are even more pronounced.
The opportunity to start a group that would work to highlight these issues and unite female dentists in our state came about with an acceptance to be a part of the 2016-2017 class of the ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership. As a part of this national program, the Institute supports a project for each candidate and provides support and momentum to propel it forward. At the request of local dentists as well as the encouragement and support of the ISDA, the project of forming the ISDA Women in Dentistry committee was launched. Our goals with this group focus on uniting female dentists in Idaho for fellowship and support, fostering leadership development through education and mentorship, and in serving our communities.
The kickoff for this group was held in June of this year at the ISDA annual session in Sun Valley, Idaho where we were able to introduce this committee and our vision moving forward. More importantly, we were also able to gather feedback from the participating female dentists on what they would like to see for this group as it matures and develops. The subsequent excitement, involvement, and support from female dentists across the state has been incredible. Our follow up event was held in Boise this fall and was attended by twenty four female dentists from Boise and surrounding areas as well as women from across the state who remoted in via our live broadcast. The women at this event were comprised of varying age groups and diverse lives, from the original female pioneers in Idaho to new graduates just beginning to navigate their careers. It was wonderful to see these women connect, share stories, exchange ideas, and learn with and from each other in this setting.
Looking forward, the vision of the ISDA Women in Dentistry is to maintain a self-sustaining group working to advance, connect, and provide a platform
for professional development and support across like-minded individuals. New ideas, volunteers for leadership, and suggestions are welcomed and
you can connect through our ISDA Women in Dentistry Facebook page, contacting the ISDA directly, or email at ISDAWomeninDentistry@gmail.com.