Happy International Women’s Day!

Today marks International Women’s Day – we give you a peek into some of the stories we have or will be sharing throughout the month of March as part of our Celebrating Women in Dentistry series. 

International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by more than one million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups, collectively, everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organisation-specific.

With IWD also focusing on raising awareness about discrimination and taking action to drive gender parity, Dentistry is committed to supporting gender equality – within the profession and beyond. 

Two thirds of women with childcare responsibilities believe they have missed out on career progression as a direct result, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

So throughout the month of March, we are sharing stories from women within dentistry, with many focusing on our chosen theme of motherhood. Here, our contributors will consider and open up about striking the careful balance of work and home life 

But we know too that motherhood does not define womanhood – so we’ll be talking to women about their wider experiences within dentistry as well. 

Emily and Eleanor Pittard – co-owners of The Hive Dental Laboratory

As women in dentistry, there is an air of superiority or arrogance to some male dentists. Primarily those in the generations above us, who have felt the need to patronise a little throughout our careers – such as how to respond to complaints, or how to use a dental system or spreadsheet.

Or the age old ‘that’s good, for a girl’ which Emily gets quite a lot of the time. For the most part though, dentistry is not that bad.

Dental technology, however, is still incredibly male-oriented: it’s a bit of a ‘boys club’ sometimes, but we’ve noticed a shift in the last few years led by the younger generations and some seriously incredible female technicians.

As a same-sex couple in dentistry, you sometimes get a surprised reaction from people and then they don’t know how to talk to you. They don’t know who to direct the ‘man questions’ to and who to direct the ‘woman questions’ to.

Or they are so okay with it that they feel the need to tell you about their LGBTQ+ cousin twice removed just so you know they are an ally.

We’ve had a few people who, while at first seemed very interested in working with us, once they found out the nature of our relationship seemed to lose interest swiftly.

But otherwise, we’ve been very lucky in that we’ve not dealt with a lot of hate and our team members have always been fine with it. The one area we tend to hide our relationship from is the patients, unfortunately.

You never know how they will take it – some have been incredible and given us so much lovely support, but others have not been so kind. 

Amber Ojak  – dental therapist

I think the choice to live child-free is a very important topic. There are so many pressures on woman and deciding to have a family is one of these. There are so many conversations about body clocks, medical conditions, or fertility – but not enough about the women who choose not to have children by their own choice.

I knew from quite an early age that I didn’t want children myself. I love children, I love babies, and I love seeing the joy they bring to other people, but I have never been able to picture my own.

I’ve had so many comments because of this over the years. Someone once said to me I would be not fulfilling my purpose as a female; it was pretty harsh. But there is so much more to us than just having families. 

I’m constantly told: ‘You’re only young, you will change your mind.’ And that’s really upsetting: it feels like no one takes it seriously, or wants to accept that I’m quite happy with my decision.

If you feel the same – or feel pressured into having children when you don’t believe it’s for you – don’t be afraid of speaking out. Everyone deserves to be happy and you have to put your happiness first, no matter what people say. People are happy with children. But people are also happy without them. 

Manrina Rhode – cosmetic dentist and founder of DRMR

Motherhood’s always been an interesting one for me. I am turning 44 this month in and I’ve always wanted to have a child: I look forward to being a mother. But it hasn’t happened for me and I think there are lots of interesting aspects with it.

There’s hanging out with your friends. There’s a show on Netflix called Motherhood. I was with some other dental colleagues the other day and they were like: ‘Oh, you have to watch Motherhood, it’s so brilliant. Have you not seen it?’

I put it on, but it wasn’t brilliant for me – I couldn’t relate. I didn’t even get through the first 10 minutes, whereas for them of course, it was relevant.

My advice for younger women? Maybe freeze your eggs. A few of my friends did that when they suddenly realised they were single at 35, and they were nervous about conceiving.

But if anyone had told me at 25 to do that, for something that might or might not even happen… it’s definitely not on your radar at that age. But with hindsight, I think it’s something that’s not spoken about enough, and it’s really valuable.

Mumtaz Awan – partner, Dental Excellence

I have been blessed with a daughter, who is four years old, and a son, who is two years old.

Trying to build a business and give your best to your family is extremely tough and not for the faint hearted. It can be extremely difficult to balance your time with family and also give enough time to your business.

Being a practice owner doubles the pressure on me to make sure my home life and work life are running smoothly. My personality is such that I am a bit of a control freak, my favourite phrase being: ‘Oh it’s fine, leave it. I will do it.’ I guess I don’t like to accept help.

This pressure does build up and, in turn, it can take a toll on my relationships at home, where all it takes is for one of them to make a comment about something and I will start my mini-meltdown. I feel that this is probably the main issue with the stress of having a young family and a business.

Being a mother is the hardest job I will ever have. To have the constant thought of your child’s wellbeing in your mind and being responsible for another little human being… it’s so rewarding but stressful at the same time. 

Keep an eye out on Dentistry.co.uk throughout March for all of our Celebrating Women in Dentistry stories:

Follow Dentistry.co.uk on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

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