The Role of Women in the Dental Industry: A Path of Growth and Challenges

The dental industry is witnessing a significant evolution in the role of women, who are progressively gaining prominent positions in this traditionally male-dominated sector.

Today, the presence of women in dentistry varies significantly in various parts of the world, with women making up between 48% (Russia) and 75% (Finland) of the dental workforce. However, in the United States, women occupy only 18% of dean positions in dental faculties and makeup only 14.8% of the editorial boards of major dental journals.

Women are less likely than men to own clinics or undertake post-graduate qualifications, and the average annual income of women independently employed full-time is 37% lower than that of men, highlighting the persistence of the gender pay gap*.

The number of female professionals and students in dental degree programs is growing, indicating a growing presence of women in dentistry. However, despite this positive trend, the road to gender equality and recognition of women’s professional skills still presents several challenges.

Recently, the Women in Dentistry (WID) Rise annual breakfast , held on 22 February at the LondonHouse Chicago, offered a chance for female dental professionals to meet and network. The event, sponsored by the Dental Trade Alliance (DTA)  and Glidewell was attended by two hundred dental professionals, demonstrating support and encouragement for women in dentistry.

This annual meeting is a networking opportunity and represents a benchmark for women’s professional and personal growth in this field. The panelists and leaders in the dental industry shared their experiences, provided tips for success, and encouraged participants to pursue their goals without limits.

This initiative highlights the importance of mutual support and knowledge sharing to overcome obstacles and promote effective gender equality in the dental industry.

Despite the increase in female dental graduates, the representation of women in leadership roles in the industry needs to be more balanced. This gap highlights the need to continue working to eliminate barriers that prevent women from reaching top positions and to recognise their contribution to the development of dentistry fully.

The WID Rise event serves as a non-profit platform promoting women in dentistry through positive awareness and professional development. The mission is to provide women with the tools and support to overcome challenges, step out of their comfort zone, and realize their potential without limitations.

Like many other sectors, the dental industry is transitioning towards greater inclusiveness and diversity. Initiatives such as the Women in Dentistry Rise breakfast are crucial in promoting women’s visibility and support, emphasizing the importance of their presence and contribution to the dental profession.

We at Faro are proud to witness the continued emergence of women entrepreneurs in the industry. The presence of figures such as Cristina Cesari at the helm of essential businesses demonstrates that women not only have the potential to fill top roles but can also inspire positive change within the industry. However, the gender gap in top roles remains a widespread problem, reflecting the need for a collective effort to promote greater equity.

In Italy, several initiatives have been put in place to promote the role of women in the industry, emphasizing the importance of gender equality and inclusion in economically and socially relevant sectors.

These initiatives range from training and mentoring programs to awards, prizes, and dedicated networks and associations.
Valore D: is the first association of companies in Italy that promotes diversity, talent, and female leadership for the growth of companies and the country. Valore D offers mentoring programs, workshops, and meetings to support women in their careers and increase their presence in positions of responsibility.

In the transport sector, Women in Motion (WIM)  promoted by Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane  stands out; The Bracco Foundation  on the other hand, through its ‘Progetto Diventerò’ project, supports the talent and training of young women in scientific and cultural fields by offering scholarships, internships, and international training opportunities.

These initiatives, along with many others, aim to overcome gender stereotypes, promote equality in career opportunities, and encourage greater female participation in all levels of industry, but in our country, no initiative is dedicated to the dental sector.
In our opinion, at Faro, only by recognizing the importance of a more balanced and inclusive approach will it be possible to overcome existing obstacles and open new paths to success and innovation in the Italian and international dental industry.

*ref: Blanton P. Women in Dentistry: Negotiating the Move to Leadership. J Dent Educ. 2006;70(11 suppl).