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Women in Dentistry society launched

Posted on 22/11/2016

A network of students and professionals, aiming to encourage and inspire women to achieve their full potential within dentistry was launched on Friday 18 November.

On Friday 18th November the society welcomed staff, graduated dentists and students to the launch of Women in Dentistry.  The event included a brief introduction about the society where the main aims were highlighted. Whilst great progress has been made within the dental profession, so that by 2020, over half of dentists in the UK will be female, the temptation to use this as a barometer for measuring gender equality may be misleading.


At the event they discussed the current challenges:


Firstly with regard to the 13 specialities – women are under-represented within every field other than four areas (DPH, paediatrics, special care and oral microbiology).

Secondly the low level of involvement of women within leadership roles, they perceive, presents a problem when decisions affecting everyone are made at higher levels.

Thirdly outside the realm of discussions regarding equality, the feminisation of the future dental workforce also presents its own particular challenges and issues. It is a topic meriting discussion in its own right, which they hope to explore in greater depth.


The society believes it is vital to make everyone out there aware that this is not a female-only issue.  The only way that progress can be made is by including all and opening up the topic for discussion for the sake of the whole dental profession. Why aren't there more females in higher positions? And what can we do about it?  What skills can we equip undergraduates with at this level to ensure they can overcome barriers that may have been faced by people before them? They aim to support each other in making all of our career goals become a reality. 

While it is helpful to provide a platform within which specific discussions may be held and opportunities created, their intention is to craft a fully inclusive space, welcoming both women and men to join and support them in their endeavour for a more diverse and equal workforce throughout the profession, not just on entry.

With the hard work of the committee the society were so proud to launch on the 18th and delighted to say they are the first current women in dentistry society across all UK universities, and hopefully not the last.


What’s to come?


  • This year they will be holding several events including a series of lectures focusing on specialities in which successful individuals within their profession can explain their own career pathways, difficulties faced, as well as advice they have for those interested in that field.

  • There will be regular networking events for undergrads to meet each other and create life long contacts with fellow students, graduate dentists and working professionals; in the hope that this encourages mentoring and giving back to the younger generation

  • They are planning an event in March coinciding with International Women’s Day to raise the profile and celebrate the contributions of women within dentistry.


The Event

The group welcomed 3 incredible speakers who each spoke about issues surrounding women in dentistry and their own career pathways.


Professor Dianne Rekow started the event off. As Executive Dean of King’s College London’s Dental Institute, the most comprehensive and largest dental school in the UK & Europe, many notable successes have been realised including improvement in its QS World University rankings from 7th in 2015 to 4th in the world and 1st in the UK in 2016. It is with great sadness however, that she will be retiring at the end of this calendar year. 

Being a great supporter, it was her personal goal to achieve a balanced gender representation at the faculty which has seen many women move into leadership positions during the last five years, and culminated with the Dental Institute earning Athena SWAN silver award on its first application in 2015. It was fascinating to hear about her own personal career pathway.


Dr Alison Lockyer was the second speakerHaving graduated from Edinburgh in 1980, within 3 years she bought her own practice and continued to expand her business to a total of 5 practices over the following years. These included providing dental services to the workforce at the BMW minis site in Leicester, as well as running some prison contracts for inmate dentistry. In addition she worked for both the BDA locally and nationally and currently sits on its PEC (Principal Executive Committee).  She was also elected to the GDC for 12 year from 1997, as a council member and finally as the Chair. Having achieved such high and well respected positions she is a great role model and it was very inspiring to hear her views about mentoring and just how important this is for all of us.


Dr Sana Movahedi concluded the speeches.Being a former student of Guy’s, she qualified with distinction in 1992. Having completed hospital jobs in oral surgery and restorative dentistry at Guy's Hospital, she moved to work in general practice and has been a GDP since 1994. Being a very inspiring speaker it was fascinating to hear how she currently combines roles as a practice owner, specialist dental advisor for CQC alongside Associate Dean roles for Health Education England, as well as a being a mother of three, so successfully. 


The evening ended with a drinks reception and the well awaited cheese platters. During this meet and greet everyone was able to speak about what they took away from the event and discuss what the future holds. As well as feeling thoroughly inspired, all attendees went away with goody bag kindly provided by GSK. 


The Women in Dentistry group are excited for the next events and would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has shown huge amounts of support for the society and its aims! 


Professor Rekow, Dr Cooke, Dr O’Toole and students 






Dr Sana Movahedi and students 


Professor Rekow, Dr Alison Lockyer, Dr Sana Movahedi and WID Committee. 

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