New update on the gender balance of dental boards in the UK

An update on the gender balance of dental boards in the UK

The number of dental boards that have a gender balance has more than doubled since 2019, according to new data.

Experts have released a new update on the gender balance of UK dental boards after an initial report last year.

Led by Kevin O’Brien, an emeritus professor in orthodontics, the 2021 paper suggested that dental boards in the UK were unbalanced regarding gender. Published as part of the ‘Balance the Dental Boards’ campaign, the authors called for associations to make changes.

They argued that inclusive and balanced boards are more likely to be effective, understand stakeholders, be open to new ideas, and have broad experience.

Improved inclusivity

Now, the latest report reveals that 10 dental boards are now balanced – 40-60% of each gender – compared to just four in 2019.

Other findings included:

  • In nine organisations women comprised more than 60% of the board (10 in 2019)
  • In eight organisations, women made up less than 40% of the board. (13 in 2019)
  • Nineteen out of the 27 boards had more than 40% women members (14 in 2019).

Dentistry’s top stories

It also found that six organisations had since increased the number of women board members to 40% or more. These were:

  • British Association of Private Dentistry
  • British Orthodontic Society
  • British Association of Maxillofacial Surgeons
  • British Society of Prosthodontics
  • British Society for Oral Maxillofacial Pathology
  • The Faculty of Dental Surgery (England).

The group analysed the websites of each of the dental boards from December 2018 to August 2022. They then determined whether a board was balanced using the EU Commission definition of a balanced board.

This states that a board should comprise of 40-60% of each gender.

Good progress

Writing in the report, Kevin O’Brien concluded: ‘There appears to have been good progress in changing the gender imbalance on the dental boards. This may be due to the efforts that are currently being made.

‘We are not suggesting that we are responsible for this change, as several other organisations are working on this.

‘For example, the Diversity in Dentistry Action Group, which has input from most dental societies. However, we are pleased to be part of this effort.’

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