This month, Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD) celebrates a history-making headline: “IU School of Dentistry Reports Record Female Student Enrollment.” With their news, the dental school gives women in dentistry yet another reason to celebrate and joins the ranks of dental educational institutes across the country with higher ratios of female to male dental students.

The incoming class of 2021 at the Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD) features 61% women (66 women and 42 men).

“That’s the school’s highest number of female students and highest-ever percentage of women pursuing dental degrees in the school’s 142-year history.” 

a WRTV-TV of Indianapolis report

Among dental schools with higher ratios of female to male students, to name a few: Columbia University, Harvard University, Penn Dental Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Tufts University, University of California, San Francisco, University of Florida, and University of Oklahoma.

A two-panel graphic representing female dentists in 2010 and 2020 and female graduates in 2009 and 2019.
Graphic courtesy ADA Health Policy Institute

Those dental school enrollment numbers track with recent data from the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute regarding an increase in the percentage of dentists in the workforce who are women, from 24.1% to 34.5% between 2010 and 2020. They also align with predictions for a shift in gender parity.

“We are going to see a steady increase in women in dentistry. HPI predicts the dentist workforce will reach gender parity by 2040.”

Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., chief economist and vice president of the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute

ADA Second VP Dr. Maria Maranga reflects on the ‘incredible shift happening in the profession’

Maria Maranga, DDS, American Dental Association Second Vice President, welcomes the news. Renowned for her inspirational mentorship, the New York endodontist has held various leadership positions at the national and state level. She discusses the strides women in dentistry are making in that arena.

Dr. Maria C. Maranga, ADA's second vice president.

“This is exactly the news I love to hear. There is an incredible shift happening in the profession as more and more women choose dentistry. Women are not only changing the makeup of the profession, but also bringing their unique perspectives to their patients and colleagues. We know women are making strides in dental leadership, too, which is so important. But there is always more to be done, and we are continuing to find ways to amplify the influence of women in dentistry.”

Maria Maranga, DDS, ADA SECOND VICE PRESIDENT and recipient of The Lucy Hobbs Project 2014 Mentorship Award

Woman to Watch congratulates the incoming class of IUSD

Annually, The Lucy Hobbs Project Awards recognize inspiring and progressive visionaries whose
powerful voices are at the helm of our profession. One of those visionaries,Lisa Simon, MD, DMD, recipient of the Lucy Hobbs Project 2020 Woman to Watch award, shared her thoughts on the record enrollment numbers and offered congratulations to the incoming class of Indiana University School of Dentistry.

Lisa Simon, MD, DMD,, recipient of the Lucy Hobbs Project 2020 Woman to Watch award.

The equitable amounts of women entering dentistry show that our profession is capable of growing to be more inclusive and more just. I look forward to seeing dentistry continue to evolve to better reflect the communities we serve and striving to reduce structural racism and sexism in dentistry and across healthcare. Welcome new colleagues to a wonderful career!

Lisa Simon, MD, DMD,, recipient of the Lucy Hobbs Project 2020 Woman to Watch award

First-ever Lucy Hobbs Project Industry Icon Dr. Careen Young discusses the number of women in dental specialties

In 2013, Benco Dental inaugurated The Lucy Hobbs Project to honor the initiative’s namesake, who in 1866 become the first American woman to earn a degree in dentistry. Its mission: to celebrate the achievements of women in dentistry and work to empower them to drive further change.

Careen W. Young, DDS, MSD, recipient of the first-ever Lucy Hobbs Project Industry Icon Award, discussed theIndiana University School of Dentistry announcement, and reflected on dental specialties, and shift that has taken place just since she earned her advanced degreein Prosthodontics at the University of Washington.

Careen W. Young, DDS, MSD, recipient of the 2013 Lucy Hobbs Project Industry Icon Award

I am excited to learn that dentistry shows a record number of women now enrolled in and graduating from dental school.  Once upon a time, I was only the third woman accepted to our prosthodontic program in 30 years.  Now there are significant numbers of women in all specialties, including prosthodontics and oral surgery.”

Careen W. Young, DDS, MSD, recipient of the 2013 Lucy Hobbs Project Industry Icon Award

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Dr. Young received her dental degree from the University of Toronto. Afterward, she completed a McGill University general practice residency and then a Master’s degree and a specialty degree in Prosthodontics at the University of Washington. 

Dr. Young has maintained a private practice in Beverly Hills for over 15 years and in that time has also dedicated efforts as an educator. She has taught at the University of Washington, UCLA and University of Southern California dental schools as well as the Wadsworth VA Hospital. In addition, she lectures to various dental organizations on the subjects of aesthetic dentistry, implants and prosthodontics.  Most recently, she was elected by her peers to participate in the prestigious Pierre Fauchard Academy.

‘Woman Who Inspires’ Dr. Cathy Hung encourages more women in dentistry to enter surgical specialty

Cathy Hung, DDS, FAAOMS, Dip. ABOMS, CLS noted that according to most recent metrics, female members comprise 16 percent of residencies in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery training programs, and with her upcoming book she aims to encourage more women to enter surgical specialty. Recently celebrated as a Lucy Hobbs Project ‘Woman Who Inspires’ Dr. Hung recently discussed “Behind Her Scalpel: Practical Guide and Stories by Women Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons,” which is slated to publish this fall.

“My project is to design a resource handbook to encourage more women to enter surgical specialty,”
Cathy Hung, DDS, FAAOMS, Dip. ABOMS, said of the book that features contributions from Dr. Rania Habib, a pediatric craniofacial surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Leslie Halpern of the University of Utah, and Dr. Justine Moe, OMFS program director at the University of Michigan, among others.

Cathy Hung, DDS, FAAOMS, Dip. ABOMS

I want to speak to your heart, because most of the people I talked to wanted to give up at some point.”

Cathy Hung, DDS, FAAOMS, Dip. ABOMS

Ready to be inspired by more women in dentistry? From recent graduates to periodontal residents … meet them in the Dental Student Spotlight

  • Constance Teoh, from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in New York, discusses her experience applying for a periodontal residency from outside the U.S. HERE.
  • Alicia Briscoe, a student at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, shares advice with other dental students around the country HERE.

Learn details about a free members-only program that includes job placement services for dental students and grants members instant free access to a Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA) study guide. Click HERE to gain personal assistance in connecting with the right post-graduation employment or associateship opportunities and a free subscription to Incisal Edge magazine.