Women, in the past as well as the present, have opted for dentistry with enthusiasm and vigour that has only grown with time. Women are attracted to this profession because dentistry is an intellectually challenging field, and is dedicated to improving people’s health.
Dentistry also provides people following the profession a relatively more comfortable living. This feature makes it especially valuable for women who are responsible for far more than just career and financial stability.
Faced with the demands of managing a practice and a household, women who are dentists have the luxury to set their own hours.
Dentistry is also a very fulfilling and rewarding career-line for women. Healing, providing therapy and relief from pain, and improving health are all very emotionally and intellectually fulfilling notions.
Let’s take a closer look at how women began to move towards the field of dentistry and flourish in it.
How women in dentistry got started
During the 19th century, women’s career options were extremely limited and dentistry was no exception. Women were expected to be in the home tending to husband and children.
Medicine and dentistry were considered particularly inappropriate as it was believed that women should not be exposed to the indelicacies of human anatomy.
Professional men were especially resistant to viewing women as equals in what had been male-dominated fields.
Fortunately, at the time, there were a few men who chose to empower women to enter the field and study the art of dentistry. With the support of such great men, women channelled their courage to persist in the face of all-male faculty of dentistry and dental organizations.
Women dentists found an acceptable niche in dentistry as their nurturing qualities were considered ideally suited to treating women and children.
Women elevated the profession of dentistry far and wide, and soon across the world it started to become a norm for women to enter the medical, and especially the dental profession.
A brief history of women in dentistry
Henriette from Germany wished to study dentistry, but unable to obtain a degree in Europe, she had to travel to the United States, to the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery.
Although she became the first woman to complete a dental academic program in 1869, the faculty refused to admit her. Dr. James Truman supported Hirschfeld and arranged for her to study anatomy at the nearby Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia.
She returned to Germany where she helped establish a women’s clinic and hospital and continued to support women doctors.
In 1866, Lucy Hobbs became the first woman graduate of any dental program. She was supported by the then Dean of Ohio College of Dentistry Jonathan Taft, who was an early and consistent supported of women dentists. He firmly believed that women were far more suited to the career than men.
While in the 1860s, women studying dentistry was a rare and shocking phenomenon, by the 1880s, women were in nearly every dental class at the University of Michigan. In 1890, Dean Taft also admitted Ida Gray—the first African American woman to receive a degree in dentistry—to the University of Michigan.
Are you ready to make history?
Dentistry is yet to become a women dominated career in Pakistan, even though each year more and more women opt to study it. It is time for women of Pakistan to empower themselves and support each other in their rise in dentistry, and swiftly take over this profession as we are meant to do!