Shining a light on female empowerment in dentistry

Ahead of her session at the Empowering Women in Dentistry Big Vision conference, Janine Brooks explains why the future is bright for female dentists

Tell us a little about yourself

Janine Brooks (JB): After qualifying from Birmingham Dental School in the early β€˜80s, I spent my whole clinical career in community dentistry, the last 17 years as a clinical director working in Herefordshire and South Warwickshire.

I have a portfolio career. Currently, I am an educational associate for the General Dental Council (GDC); a coach for the Professional Support Unit, Health Education England, Thames Valley; an expert witness; lead clinical tutor for the law and ethics module for the University of Bristol BUOLD programme; trustee of the Dentists Health Support Trust, and a fellow for the Society of British Dental Nurses.

I launched my own coaching and training consultancy, Dentalia, in July 2011, providing coaching to dental professionals on a broad range of education and training topics to include reflective practice, ethical practice, professionalism, leadership skills, note keeping, consent, CV and interview skills, under performance, and communication skills.

I am a founding partner of the Dental Coaching Academy, which offers Level 7 postgraduate qualifications (PG Cert and PG Award) in coaching and mentoring.

In December 2016, I launched Dental Mentors UK with a colleague. This is an online resource to support mentors and promote mentoring within the dental profession.

I also facilitate Apollonia, a networking group for women dental professionals.

I privately coach/mentor a number of dentists (and some doctors) in personal development, leadership, career development and fitness to practise remediation. I specialise in coaching dentists experiencing difficulties, particularly those who have been referred to the GDC.

I write extensively and have published three books (How to Develop your Career in Dentistry, How to Survive Performance Difficulties in Dentistry, and 100 years of Women Dental Professionals 1918-2018), plus a number of articles and papers over the years.

Why is it important to have an event to empower women in dentistry?

JB: The women who work in the UK dental profession in 2019 are impressive. Dentistry has gradually become a more feminine profession, with more than 20,000 female dentists registered with the GDC across the UK in 2018.

The picture for female dental professionals is one of mainly success, but there are areas of dentistry that seem to be more elusive; for example, senior leadership and political influence.

Political positions in dentistry are an area where inroads have been slower and less successful; for example, within Local Dental Committees.

There are also some specialities that are less popular for women: endodontics, oral medicine, oral surgery, periodontics, prosthodontics and restorative dentistry.

I think it is also interesting that fewer women seem to aspire to practice ownership.

Women are certainly in the ascendency within dentistry; however, more needs to be done to ensure women are empowered to confidently take leadership and seniority in their stride.

Where does education fit in with that?

JB: Women outnumber men as students in dental schools across the UK. At the end of 2017, female dentists outnumbered men in all age groups under 44 years of age.

Where education can help is to provide avenues for qualified female dentists to build their aspirations and ensure they feel equipped with the skills to take their careers in the directions they want to. This could include leadership, practice and business management, and personal development.

Coaching and mentoring are particularly important in underpinning personal development.

Who should attend the conference and why?

JB: Everyone who is interested in the future of dentistry should attend: the future is very likely to be female.

Female dentists who want to further their careers and personal development should attend to network. Male dentists who want to understand how to maximise female talent should attend. Dental students should attend to consider how women are moulding dental futures.

Why have you chosen to get involved with this event?

JB: I have a deep and long-standing interest in furthering careers of women, but particularly female dental professionals.

I was a member of Women in Dentistry as a young dentist, and I valued the networking and support that gave me.

I have personally been fortunate to have experienced excellent support and mentoring throughout my career, and I’m keen to see that continued with younger colleagues.

What will you be talking about at the conference?

JB: I’ll be talking about the last 100 years of women in the dental professional in the UK (1918-2018) – which also happens to be the subject of my latest book. The book showcases more than 50 amazing women and charts the rise of women dental professionals in the UK in the last 100 years.

What will be the main take-home messages?

JB: We stand on the shoulders of incredible women. Female dental professionals are doing amazing work – it’s been a slow burn, but the last 20 years have seen a massive increase in women in the dental profession – but there is still work to be done.

What have you learned in the last few years about being an empowered woman?

JB: If you want it, you can get it (you will need to work hard), confidence is the key, knowledge underpins success, networks are essential, and diversity of work keeps you interested, motivated and sane.

Do you feel empowered. If so/not, how and why?

JB: Very much so. I love my work in dentistry and I feel fortunate I have been able to take my career in a variety of interesting and fulfilling directions.

Is there anything in particular you would like to see change in the dental profession along gender lines?

JB: We probably should investigate why young males are finding dentistry less attractive. We need a balanced profession to serve our patients, full of diversity and difference – and that includes gender.

Is there anything else you would like to mention?

JB: The future is bright – we light the lamps.

The empowering women in Dentistry Big Vision conference takes place on Saturday 30 November at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconcilation and Peace, London. Find more details and the full speaker line-up atΒ Β www.ewdbigvisionconference.comΒ 
For tickets, priced at Β£95, visit

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