In October 2016, 14 female dentists from 9 countries (mainly from Europe) met in Zurich, Switzerland for the 1st “Women’s Implantology Network” workshop (WIN). These women had different professional backgrounds but they shared in common their young spirits, openness towards new technologies and innovations, and the true appreciation of diversity. On the first day the participants shared their views on the topic in a workshop, followed by an intensive speaker training session on the second day
Why? There is a clear trend in most parts of the world, and many publications and studies from different countries are reaching the same conclusion: Since more and more women are graduating in dentistry, the proportion of female dentists will substantially increase in the upcoming years. Despite this trend, women still remain underrepresented when it comes to opinion leadership, entrepreneurship, and academic careers. One question arises in this context: how will this trend impact the field of dentistry, and what are the implications for practices, work models and implantology?
Click on the picture to enlarge – Source: Figures 2012-2013 by local dental associations, scientific publications and Straumann estimates.
The participants’ profile: Women who are working either in a private practice and/or in an academic role were invited to the meeting. The participants were interested in sharing their knowledge and experience about their personal career path and the challenges they have faced and had to overcome as women. Based on this, we discussed the possibilities how to support other women in the same situation. The group is committed and motivated to contribute towards a better legacy for the next generation of women.
The agenda: The day started with an introduction into the theme with presentations by Prof. Frauke Müller and Michael Hotze, followed by a discussion based on the “World Café” approach, where the individual aspects and challenges faced by women in dentistry were discussed and proposals developed for initiatives to make a change and support other women. At the end of the day Marco Gadola gave an overview of strategic initiatives, including the importance of the role of females in dentistry. After the workshop, the participants were invited to enjoy a “Chocolate Seminar” with a tasting session and self-made chocolates. On the next day, a speaker training session led by trainers Sylvia Pitz and Dominik Schott was on the agenda and proved very productive, with numerous funny moments, as can be seen in the pictures.
IMPRESSIONS AND QUOTES
What does it mean to be a woman in dentistry? According to the workshop participants, the main challenges experienced by women on their career path were internal (self-imposed) pressures, leading to lack of confidence, and family care obligations (children, parents, other relatives). But there were also external pressures: women face more entry barriers while being confronted with gender stereotypes. “The path will be difficult for a woman in surgery and academia” is a statement they have been hearing since the early stages of their career. Based on these insights, some proposals for concrete initiatives were made:
- Offer individualized career path consulting services
- Improve the options for women to assume leadership positions
- Increase the pool of female speakers so that women are present at all levels (study clubs, local, regional and international events)
- Establish mentorship program for young graduates with the opportunity to learn from role models/experienced mentors.
- Re-entry courses for those returning to work after maternity (or other) leave
- Targeted courses on business, career paths, management etc.