IDAHO — When going to the dentist, you probably don’t think twice about who your dentist is. Of the 925 actively licensed dentists in Idaho, only 116, or 12 percent, are women.
This brings challenges to women in this line of work, but there has been a slight increase in the number of women dentists, and it's expected to continue growing.
In the entire country, only 34 percent of licensed dentists are women, making this a male-dominated field, which brings challenges.
“There is a difference in the way that we are viewed or are brought to the table on policies. Sometimes it may just be ‘Oh I’ve never had a female dentist before,' and sometimes that can come with a lot of positivity, and sometimes that can come with a lot of questioning and uncertainty,” Dr. Rosa Pothier.
The number of women in dental school has gone up over the last few years.
“Across the U.S. in dental schools, women are making up at least 50% now of the classes. So, we’re going to see different practice models and we’re going to really see a change in more women coming in and making an impression,” Dr. Jill Shelton Wagers said.
16 women have held different leadership roles in the Idaho State Dental Association (ISDA) over the last five years, making up 14 percent of the current women dentists.
“We need to encourage more women into leadership. Organized dentistry is vitally important to maintain our profession. There's some education out there encouraging them," Wagers said.
Apart from the ISDA is the Idaho State Dental Association, Woman Dentistry.
“It's basically an opportunity for women to talk to other women that are in their exact same positions. So it's an opportunity to connect, first of all, it's an opportunity for us to unite, discuss our issues, get to know each other. I always say the biggest support is just making those relationships,” Pothier said.
Any women interested in this field are encouraged to join.
“You can absolutely do it. Even if you can't envision it. They did it and were not that much better or smarter or anything really more special. It's just a matter of us going for it and taking it one day at a time and getting it done. And if the guys can do it, we can do it,” Pothier said.