• David Manes

Cleaning Out the Cavities of Dentistry: Female Dentist Gender Discrimination


female dentist with patient

Cleaning Out the Cavities of Dentistry: Female Dentist Gender Discrimination

Female dentist gender discrimination is alive and well in the dental profession. While female dentists exercise positive perspective of the industry as a whole, male dentists have much steeper expectations of women in the profession. In fact, some men believe that female applicants to dental school should be discriminated against because, once they’re dentists, female dentists are more likely to work part time or drop out of the career completely for family reasons.

Although female dentists are more and more common within the profession, patients still assume that the female dentist is an assistant or hygienist. Clearly, gender bias fuels public viewpoint. Female dentists also suffer a large pay gap, even studies controlled for experience and education show this. Gender discrimination is illegal, and companies who allow these disparities to continue can face legal action.


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The Pay Gap in the Dentistry Industry

Although numbers have fluctuated over the years since female dentists have joined the industry, the gender pay gap remains. While at one point the gap stood at about 90k difference between male and female dentists, recent years have seen that difference lessen. Comparable to many other medical professions, the dentist gender pay gap is less than some and more than others. But when controlled for job title and experience, research still shows a pay gap.

Why Does the Pay Gap Exist?

Reasons abound. Some blame it on the fact that many female dentists become mothers or caregivers for family members while others point out that the research is biased in some way. Researchers theorize that the studies don’t account for how female dentist practice owners run their offices and charge their clients. In fact, some wonder if male dentists are more likely to prescribe invasive procedures for a higher profit while female dentists focus on preventive dental procedures. Despite the theories, the gender pay gap still exists.

The Real Life Tooth Fairy: Dentist Moms

Women are known for being master multi-taskers, juggling many tasks and responsibilities throughout the week. In dentistry, many are finding a space to balance motherhood and career. Some female dentists incorporate motherhood into busy careers by hiring a nanny or having a stay-at-home husband. But others have begun to work flexible hours.More than anything, mom dentists are positive about interacting with dentistry as a mother. The field allows flexibility in the practices.


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However, some believe that women should not be allowed into the dental profession because women are more likely to stop working or work part time to accommodate for family. Many female dentists report that they are often asked in interviews if they are married or have children. These two questions are illegal. Of course, if a female dentist experiences employment discrimination or a violation of her employee rights, this is a serious violation of the law.

Recognizing discrimination requires an understanding of the employment rights offered to every worker within the United States. Women should be aware of possible pay gaps, lack of promotion, or termination, stemming from gender discrimination. When employment discrimination occurs, a woman dentist should check the company policy on discrimination complaints and contact an employment lawyer.

Battling Public Perceptions of Dentistry

Gender bias anchors the popular opinion about most jobs throughout the world. Women are more often viewed as emotional, friendly, and deferential while men are viewed as decisive and dominant. Since the role of a dentist is most often perceived as a male-dominated field, female dentists deal with gender bias on an almost daily basis.

“It bothers me when some of my new patients still assume I’m the dental assistant or the hygienist. I walk into the room and they ask, ‘Where’s the doctor?’” Amrita Reddy, “Lead Like A Girl,” Dental Economics


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What Are My Employee Rights?


But even within dentistry, a gender bias remains strong. Male dentists vary in their blunt opinions of women in the profession who work part time or will take a break from the dental career for family responsibilities. While for all accounts and internet searches there’s not much on gender discrimination in dentistry, it certainly exists.

“I’m a dentist. Guys are better at it. Period.” – male California dentist, The Wealthy Dentist survey

And there it is. The discrimination might not be often vocalized in dentistry, but that doesn’t change its ongoing presence. Some believe it’s just the way of the world for certain groups to be treated better than others. Discrimination is discrimination.

“Whew! People rarely talk about this issue, but it’s a big one, particularly in dentistry. I hope talking about it openly can help ease this professional Battle of the Sexes!” – Jim Du Molin, founder of The Wealthy Dentist

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How To Recognize Gender Discrimination in Dentistry

Gender discrimination is most often recognized by employment actions or routine, patronizing comments made about a certain gender. Employment discrimination caused by gender can be in any area of the workplace. When discrimination occurs, the government provides the employee ways to combat the negative employment action.

Protected Employment Areas


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  1. Hiring and Firing

  2. Conditions of Employment

  3. Promotions

  4. Salary and Work Benefits

  5. Job Classification

Actions Revealing Gender Discrimination

  1. Exclusion of certain genders for projects or social events

  2. Lack of recognition for work performance

  3. Firm only hires male dentists

  4. Sexual harassment complaints is not resolved

  5. Negative assessments in comparison to other coworkers despite similar work

  6. Less qualified individuals receive promotions

When gender discrimination is recognized as the motivation for a negative employment action, a female dentist must spring to action. Basically, document every discriminatory situation, including every detail. If working at a dental practice, check the employee handbook for the chain of command when reporting a discrimination complaint. Once reported, document that information and wait to see if the problem is adequately resolved. If not, it’s time to consult a lawyer. However, stay aware of the deadline for filing a complaint with the government for employment discrimination.

If you are a female dentist and have experienced employment discrimination or sexual harassment, contact an employment attorney now to hear your legal options.

Chat with an employment attorney: (412) 626-5626 or lawyer@lawkm.com.

#Employmentdiscrimination #genderdiscrimination

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