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Should We Be Talking About Women in Dentistry?

March 4, 2022
by Dr. Sanjukta Mohanta, BSC., DDS


I don’t get it. Why are we talking about women in dentistry? More females are graduating dental school than males, and females are increasingly owning dental practices, becoming specialists, influencing, educating and leading dental organizations. In fact, several provincial dental associations have female presidents and the next president of the Canadian Dental Association is female. While females are rising in dentistry, will differentiating between male and female dentists divide us instead of unite us?

There are groups dedicated to female dentists. I joined one last year, but to tell you the truth, it makes me a little uncomfortable. I am worried that an organization dedicated to one gender will make other genders feel excluded. Is making a new girls club just as bad as having an old boys club?

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Do I have a disadvantage being female? Yes – I wasn’t able to progress in my career when my children were young. I had gaps in my career from taking maternity leave and I disregarded specializing because those extra years would interfere with my fertile years. Having kids left me with little time for continuing education, made me reduce my hours and caused me to give up my search for a dental practice. When I joined organized dentistry, I had to work hard to be heard. At times when I wasn’t treated well, I wondered if I would have been treated better if I was a man.

On the other hand, there are advantages to being a female dentist. Our hands are smaller making it easier to work in the mouth and patients are less fearful of us. I mostly work with kids and they are so comfortable with me that a few of them even called me mom. And if you are a mom, dentistry is a great career for women. We can work part-time and have some flexibility with our work hours. We don’t get judged for taking a break from our careers to care for our children or not owning a dental practice.

So, should we be talking about women in dentistry? I asked this question to some of my friends who are dentists and I was surprised when a male dentist said, “If there is a discussion on women in dentistry, I want to have a front row seat.” When I asked him why, he replied, “Women and men are different. It’s not equal. I have read sexist and racist comments in online forums. The more people talk about what’s holding them back, the better it is for the rest of us to help them move forward.”

Now I get it. Talking about women in dentistry means we are showing dentists, of all genders, to appreciate their differences. It’s about making dentists feel included because each of us is on a different path in our careers because of what makes us unique. It’s not about shaming men or complaining about inequality. Talking about women in dentistry is about sharing our stories, so we can all understand each other, and that way, we can help each other, no matter what our gender in dentistry.


About the Author

Dr. Sanjukta Mohanta is a general dentist practicing at a publicly funded dental clinic in Brampton, Ontario. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 1999 where her class was the first to be 50% female.


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3 Comments » for Should We Be Talking About Women in Dentistry?
  1. Dorothy Marko says:

    Having a women’s study club in dentistry is important as a support network more than anything else. We have had the Ottawa Women Dentist Study Club for over 12 years. We can always find a course in dentistry in any club but the participants
    may not be going thru the same struggles as you are as a mother, wife, dentist or owner. We share on a personal level much more and cherish those relationships in our group. Our goal is not to divide but to make us better dentists, mothers, partners and better well rounded persons.

    • Sanjukta Mohanta says:

      Thank you for your comments, Dr. Marko. Your group is a wonderful place where female dentists can connect, support each other and discuss issues unique to women.

  2. Sanjukta Mohanta says:

    Thank you for your comments, Dr. Marko. Your group is a wonderful place where female dentists can connect, support each other and discuss issues unique to women.

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