Women in dentistry – all change for 2020

dentist-ladyWith figures suggesting that over half of all dentists in the UK will be female by 2020, Johnny Minford considers what this means in real terms for the profession’s finances.

It was a step change for dentistry when, in 1895, Lilian Lindsay became the first qualified female dentist in the UK. In 1914, in a piece published in the British Dental Journal, Louie M Brooks, secretary and warden of the London School of Medicine for Women, wrote that the role of female dentists would, ultimately, be to treat children and women since ‘…they have greater confidence in their own sex’. This gives interesting insight into how much things had to change to reach the point we are at today.

Continuing the pursuit of gender equality in dentistry, 3.2% of dentists registered with the General Dental Council in 1937 were women. By 1972 this had increased to 12.8%. By the year 2000, 32% of dentists were women, increasing to 37% by 2005.

Today, around 47% of dentists are women (Health & Social Care Information Centre, 2015) and taking into consideration the numbers currently at university, by 2020 over half of registered dentists will be female (Pacey, 2014).

Work-life balance

One of the most interesting aspects of this change in the balance of gender within dentistry is the continued need for work-life stability. As stated by Laura Pacey: ‘The difference between genders in working hours is minimal pre-career breaks. Women are more likely to reduce their hours upon returning to work following a career break and the difference in hours worked between a female dentist that has and has not taken a break across a working lifespan is about 15,000.

‘In their 2001 study, Newton et al found that 61% of female dental practitioners had taken a career break at some point in their lives, whereas only 27% of male dentists had’ (Pacey, 2014).

But what does this mean in real terms? Most dentists we ask say they are in practice primarily because they enjoy clinical dentistry. Of course, dentists also need to make some money and balance their career with a home life. We see our job as helping dentists achieve that balance, or at least keep their sanity in the trying.

Certainly, one topic close to my heart is the financial security of dental professionals and their families, and considering the repercussions career breaks – and what comes after – are an essential part of making sound economic decisions.

People take career breaks for a number of reasons including – but not limited to – maternity, paternity and adoption leave, raising children, or caring for another. These types of situations can cause money worries if you haven’t planned for a reduced income stream.

The key to success here – whenever possible – is to plan in advance. This is where the support of a specialist accountant can make all the difference – by guiding you through the best way to plan to reduce the monetary impact of your career break, tailored to your specific needs. Whether employed or self-employed, there are solutions to your concerns. From arranging a flexible mortgage to general tax advice, cash flow concerns and forecasting and everything in between, the right accountant will make sure nothing is overlooked – so you can rest assured you’re covered.

Since the Minford team are long-time specialists in dentistry and have achieved a great reputation for understanding and supporting women in dentistry, why not get in touch today to see how we can support your career and family needs? That way, you can indeed have it all!


Health & Social Care Information Centre (2015) NHS Dental Statistics England 2014/15

Pacey L (2014) Investigation: Have women changed the dental workforce? British Dental Journal 216(1): 4-5

For further information, visit www.minford.eu, email [email protected] or call 01904 414 471.

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