Dental Schools and Gender Profiling

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Dental Survey Results

Drum roll please! I recently asked you if certain factors might make it acceptable for dental schools to favor male applicants – and fully 42% of you said yes! Some see it as discrimination, whereas others think it would help preserve access to care. We received a record number of comments from dentists on this subject.

Read the dentists’ comments for more insight into their thoughts.

Male versus Female Dental Practitioners

It’s not terribly surprising that gender played a significant role in a dentist’s opinion. The majority of male dentists (55%) feel it would be acceptable to profile applicants based on gender. Only one in nine female dentists (12%) agrees.

Urban, suburban and rural dentists

Geographic location also played a major role. While suburban dentists were split down the middle, urban dentists showed a preference for gender-blind admissions, while rural dentists in this survey approve of screening applicants for gender.

The difference between specialists and general dentists in this survey was statistically insignificant.

For more insight, check out these comments!

Oh! Are we finally talking about this?

  • "I’m a little surprised that this topic has come into the open view, but it is undeniable. The profession is losing manpower hours at a time when there's a call to serve more people.” (General dentist)
  • "Pure BS. Dentistry is free commerce. Should female dentists charge more than male dentists since there are less of them available to work? NO, it is just a further example of incorrectly interrupting data to come up with an inaccurate conclusion. Dentistry should be embarrassed by this continued pattern of stupidity.” (Male New Mexico dentist)

Are you kidding me with this question?!? [Politically Correct]

  • "Perhaps the dental schools should have the female applicants sign a ‘no children’ contract. Are we in China??” (Female California dentist)
  • "This is ridiculous. These ideas are from the year 1800!" (Female New Jersey dentist)
  • "To even ask this question is INSANITY!” (Female New York dentist)

Are you kidding me with this question?!? [Politically Incorrect]

  • “Be realistic! The need for care has to be satisfied no matter what the uppity feminist ladies happen to believe. Wake up!” (Male Indiana dentist)
  • “I'm a dentist. Guys are better at it. Period.” (Male California dentist)

Why is an applicant's gender the school's business?

  • “Live with it, people. Discrimination in any form is un-American.” (Male Colorado orthodontist)
  • “As long as the students pay their tuition, why should the university care what gender they are?” (Female Michigan dental office worker)
  • “The better person should get any position – whether they be rich, poor, short, tall, black, white, Hispanic, male or female.” (Male Arkansas dentist)
  • "Since when do statistics about future work patterns determine admissions to any higher educational institutions in this
    country? Should unemployed college graduates not have been accepted at all because they are not working members of our society?" (Female South Carolina dentist)
  • "Women who want to be dentists should not be penalized." (Female New York pediatric dentist)

Who says female dentists don’t give back?

  • “Most patients like receiving treatment from women. I've been told that women are more gentle and more patient than men. I don't think it is right to discriminate women in the dental field because women are the ones to have babies. If women did not have babies, then where would the dental schools be?” (Female Florida dentist)
  • “If women work fewer hours during the years that their children are young, so be it. I am sure they make up for it as they get older.” (Female Missouri orthodontist)
  • “I am a female dentist who has been in practice 25 years. The vast majority of that time I have been a single mother receiving little or no child support. I took one week off after the birth of my third child. Currently I practice 60-70 hours a week, spread over six days, in two different locations. Before I took on the second location (only dentist for 1200 inmates in a state prison), I volunteered one day a week in a free clinic. I'd challenge any male dentist to ‘give back’ more than I do!” (Female dentist)

Dental schools prefer men because they donate more

  • “Perhaps dental schools should examine why female graduates donate less. As a female dental student in the 1970s, I was harassed and discriminated against regularly. (One professor announced to the class that he didn't understand what the point was of admitting women to dental school if we didn't wear skirts to class.) Although I give money to my undergraduate college, I have never given to my dental school because of the way I was treated.” (Female Illinois dentist)
  • “What a bunch of crap. It is surely more about the money for the dental schools; as in, how much they will get back in donations.” (Male Oregon dentist)

Taxpayers should get service in return

  • “Anyone accepting a position in a state school needs to make a mental commitment to provide at least 15 years of clinical/professional practice to justify taking up that admittance slot.” (Female Wisconsin Periodontist)
  • “I think a state supported school should have the right to require a certain amount of service. The public should not subsidize a full-time education in a field with a developing shortage for a part time-provider.” (Male New York dentist)
  • “I have very strong feelings about female dentists who do not practice ‘like men.’ In light of the high taxpayer cost to train dentists and the impending shortage of dentists, if female dentists want to be home with their children and not practice at least 30 hours/week for at least four years, they should have to pay back to the state the amount it cost to train them.” (Female Alabama dentist, working 50+ hours per week for 15 years)
  • “With the average cost to the public of a public dental school education exceeding $100,000 per graduating doctor, a fair criteria for determining which students receive these dollars should be benefit to the public.” (Male California dentist)

No love lost for part-timers

  • “With a shortage of dentists on the horizon, dental schools closing and the rising cost of dental education, it would seem unfair to the American public, especially the poor and underserved, to train part-time workers in this field!! It doesn't matter whether they are male or female.” (General dentist)
  • “I am so tired of seeing female dentists who don't want to work. Stop taking a spot in dental school. You have an obligation to the profession. If you only want to work part-time, be a hygienist!” (Female Ohio dental office worker)
  • “The reality is we are entering a time of declining supply of dentists and increasing population. I never would discriminate based solely on gender, but for every slot in a dental school that is occupied, we are going to need a reasonable output of care from that individual!” (Male Kansas dentist)
  • “I think that it has become a badge of wealth to have a professional degree and not have to work." (Female Kentucky dentist)

It's about reality, not political correctness

  • “The truth is that men do contribute more to the treatment of people than do women. I didn't make up the rules; I’m just recognizing reality!” (Male Nevada dentist)
  • “Young women today do not want to work as many hours, no matter what their profession. They use child-rearing as an excuse to go to the spa and have their nails done. They do not have the same work ethic as the Baby Boomers. Therefore, now I am sad to say I would agree with limiting the numbers again.” (Female Arizona prosthodontist)
  • “Which will win on this vote…political correctness or logical, utilitarian thought process?” (Male North Carolina dentist)
  • "Look at what the average professional lifetime of male vs. female dentist is. I've worked fulltime for 29 years and missed two days due to illness in that time. My professional lifespan is 8 times that of the average female dentist. It may not be P.C., but it is true.” (Male California dentist)

How we could make it better

  • "If men were given preference, there would be more dentists in total practice hours and therefore less need to employ unlicensed foreign dentists in public health clinics." (Male Massachusetts dentist)
  • “If there are more women that are practicing part time, then we need more students to meet the criteria, not preferential treatment.” (Male Tennessee dentist)
  • “A dental shortage does exist in the US, and males who can afford to work more hours per week are a significant solution to that problem.” (Male Florida dentist)

How about bringing care to underserved areas?

  • “Female dentist are giving back by actually working at under-served areas rather than volunteering a few hours a side from the high income practice.” (Female North Carolina dentist)
  • “There is a shortage of dentists willing to provide care to underserved populations. There is no shortage of dentists who want to make big bucks doing worthless procedures like veneers.” (Male Massachusetts dentist)
  • “If there were really a dental manpower shortage, your company as well as all other marketing consultants would be out of business. There are areas where people just don't want to practice.” (Male Texas orthodontist)

How is gender bias different from racial discrimination?

  • "If we find that Hispanics work more hours and donate higher rates than Native Americans, should the same argument apply? I think not!” (Male New Mexico dentist)
  • “It is not okay to give preference on any basis other than merit.” (Male Washington dentist)
  • “‘Giving preference to those who will give back the most’ is no different than a restaurant making, say, a black man wait for a table, while a white businessman gets better service, simply because one group may statistically give higher tips than the other. Is it okay for a restaurant to discriminate? Do such rules not apply to dental schools?” (Male California dentist)

It's a matter of who provides the most care to the public

  • “Women working significantly fewer hours (or not at all) seems to be reality. At least half of the all the female dentists that I have known in my 32 years of dentistry fit into that mold. ‘ (Male North Dakota dentist)
  • “I know for facts that most of the females in my graduating class are not practicing dentistry anymore. They got pregnant and/or married and ended their dental careers. I could give you names.” (Male California dentist)
  • “These statistics are not new. These factors, less working hours and less working years, multiplied by the thousands of female dentists, are significant in predicting dental care in the future.” (Male Mississippi dentist)

Dealing with Discrimination

  • “As a female dentist, I still have to deal with gender bias when it comes to associate job interviews. I am still asked to this day if I am married and do I have kids at an interview! It’s bad enough that we still have to deal with this from the 'good old boys club.' We don't need it in our schools too.” (Female Florida dentist)
  • "I would have been eligible in 1967 to try for dental school, but the dean refused to accept women unless they were the daughters of dentists or planned to go to pediatric dentistry. So first I was a hygienist for 20 years. I have been practicing full time since 1986. I hope my granddaughter never has to face this kind of nonsense!!” (Female Indiana dentist)

Dealing with Reverse Discrimination

  • “I have discovered firsthand reverse discrimination with my qualified son applying to dental school. I was told by a faculty member of one school that he is at a great disadvantage being a privileged white male. He didn't get in at five schools, even with a 3.7 GPA.” (Male dentist)


Note: Survey sample included 273 respondents.

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