Women in Dentistry survey reveals gender gap

A survey into Women in Dentistry created by Minford Chartered Accountants has revealed that for dentists under the age of 35 there is a strong perception that there is a gender gap in dentistry, with over 40% agreeing with that statement and only 23% directly disagreeing. Older clinicians, however, felt that the gender gap was less prevalent. The main reasons that were given were in themselves interesting – watch this space for more details!

The team at Minford Chartered Accountants has been working in the dental industry for 25 years. Over the last few years they have noticed the marked shift between the proportion of men and women qualifying as dentists. As a result, it seemed the perfect time to investigate what this will mean for the dental industry as a whole, and gauge the attitudes and feelings of the clinicians themselves.

Minford’s national survey into women’s attitudes regarding their dental careers is the largest of its kind. The contributions ranged across all ages and locations, and attracted respondents of both sexes.

The survey also revealed that nearly 25% of the dentists who responded were planning on leaving the dental profession in the next 10 years for reasons other than retirement. It is amazing that people are willing to give up the years of work they have put into dentistry. Set against the fact that over 97% of respondents claimed that their career was either very or quite important, which presumably means the participants of the survey value their jobs highly, this begs the question – why?

The survey further indicated that almost 65% of participants are working full-time, 28% are part-time, with just 4% on maternity leave, and the remainder stating a nonspecific reason for their absence from the workplace.

Of those engaged in part-time hours, childcare requirements were the most common reason stated. This has the potential to have a negative impact on women within the profession, because they are predominantly the ones who have to take ‘time out’ of their careers to look after their children. This is in line with recent figures from My Family Cares; their survey suggested that less than 1% of fathers took shared parental leave.

When asked what they would change about dentistry in the Women in Dentistry survey, there were a few popular answers. Most complained about the amount of paperwork that has to be completed and felt that this time could be better spent caring for patients.

Another major concern that was expressed by dentists in the survey was the constant fear of litigation and lack of help and support from the professional bodies such as the BDA, as well as the CQC and GDC making dentists feel like they were on their own.

The positive news is that most women in dentistry are happy with their career growth. The main reason cited as to why women are unhappy is related to the consequences and situation that they face when taking time out to look after their children. This says a lot about the professionalism of women over the lifetime of their career, and may surprise more than a few male dentists.

Johnny Minford had this to say about the results: ‘I think the survey that we have conducted shows that people are looking for an opportunity to make their voices heard in the profession in which they have invested so much time, money and energy. We are proud to give them that voice. Thank you to all who took the time to fill out our survey.’

Minford will be further examining all the information in the survey over the coming weeks and months. There are clearly a number of aspects that concern women and, given the male/female proportion within the profession, things could well change over the next decade to accommodate this… if the establishment is listening.

Well, Minford is listening!

Minford’s mission is to make dentists’ life as easy as possible. With a team that understands that it isn’t easy to try to juggle a highly stressful professional job while running a house or looking after a family, they are committed to answering your calls day or night, coming to your home or practice to meet with you. They don’t work 9-5; they work for you, when it’s right for you.

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