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International Women’s Day: New Data Shows that the Dentistry Gender Gap is Closing

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Leaders of Europe’s largest dental recruitment specialists, mydentist careers, claim that the landscape of dentistry has changed dramatically in recent years, with women becoming increasingly influential across the industry.

To mark International Women’s Day (March 8th), the organisation has highlighted its latest employee data, which showed that as of April 2014, around 60% of the firm’s employees were female.

Putting this into context, data released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) in August last year revealed that for 2014/15, 47% of NHS dentists were female. This is clearly a significant increase from 39% in 2006/07.

In 2014, the British Dental Journal predicted that by the year 2020 more than half of dentists in the UK would be female – mydentist careers is already ahead of this curve.

Where have we come from?

3 According to MDDUS (The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland), the 1897 England Census recorded only 116 female dentists, although none held a Licence in Dental Surgery (LDS).

Two years later, Lillian Lindsay (née Murray) achieved her LDS qualification, making her the first qualified female dentist in the UK. However, this was in Scotland, and it wasn’t until 1912 that Lily Fanny Pain was the first woman to achieve and qualify with an LDS Eng.

Where are we now?

The face of the dental industry is changing fast. More and more women are entering the profession from university, qualifying as dentists and going on to work in either NHS or private contracts.

The rise in the number of female dentistry graduates is also reflected across different age categories, with women starting to form the majority in the younger age groups. According to data from HSCIC, in 2014/15, 57% of dentists under the age of 35 were female, and this figure stood at 51% for 35-44s. However, men still held the majority in the 45 to 54 age range (60%) and for over-55s (76%). This arguably adds further weight to the notion of a generational shift in attitudes, and demonstrates a strong future for women in this industry.

As of April 2014, mydentist careers employed 2,394 dentists across Europe, 962 (40%) of them being male and 1,432 (60%) of them female. The company has introduced a number of flexible working patterns across its network of practices – a move that has appealed to box sexes, but particularly women, the evidence suggests.

Barry Cockcroft, Non-Executive Director at mydentist and former CDO for England, believes the latest data highlights a welcome shift within dentistry, one that has gathered pace in the last 15 years.

“The number of women studying dentistry and qualifying to work in the profession has risen dramatically. It is clear that more women are attracted to the idea of a career in this industry, perhaps because of the variety, the flexible hours, the independence, and the availability of jobs.

“Our own data suggests that women are now in the majority within our business, and we fully expect this trend to be reflected nationwide within the next four or five years.

“Stories surrounding the lack of dentists in the UK have continued to appear. Not only does a rise in the number of women entering the industry help to address this shortage, but it corrects a gender imbalance that had been blighting the industry for centuries.”