Special Issues
Nov/Dec 2009
Volume , Issue

Women Advancing Dentistry

Most of us know that the first woman in the United States to earn her dental degree was Lucy Hobbs Taylor. A role model for all women dentists, Dr. Taylor had a successful career and a family, and she was a supporter of the Women’s Rights Movement. Dr. Taylor, who died in 1910, would be proud of the strides women dentists have made—and continue to make—since then.

In 1921, 12 young women who had met at the American Dental Association’s annual meeting decided to form a new organization—Federation of American Women Dentists. In 1928, the name was changed to the American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD). The goal of AAWD was to “promote the interests of the women dentists of the United States of America and bring them into closer touch with each other.” In 1922, the first AAWD meeting was held the day before the American Dental Association’s Annual Session. At that time, AAWD numbered 95 members.

According to the most recent ADA surveys, 19.7% of the dentist population is female. More importantly, 44.6% of all students enrolled in dental school (2007-2008) were female. Estimates are that in the near future, women dentists will become the majority.

For more than 88 years, AAWD has served women dentists by providing a nurturing and open environment where they can share experiences and mentor one another. AAWD helps women dentists by creating networking, mentoring, and educational opportunities, leadership skills training, help with local chapter start-up, and scholarships and loans for student members.

Many distinguished women leaders have passed through the membership rosters of AAWD. Some of the highlights are:

  • AAWD’s first President, Dr. Evangeline Jordan, was one of the first practitioners to limit her practice to children. A founder of pedodontics, she was devoted to organized dentistry and dental education.
  • Dr. Gillette Hayden and Dr. Grace Spaulding. These AAWD Past Presidents were co-founders of the American Academy of Periodontology.
  • In 1992, AAWD Past President Dr. Geraldine Morrow became the first female President of the American Dental Association. In 2007, Dr. Kathy Roth became the second woman to hold this office.
  • In 1975, Dr. Jeanne Sinkford became the first woman Dean of a Dental School: Howard University College of Dentistry. Dr. Connie Drisko became Dean of the Medical College of Georgia’s School of Dentistry in 2003, and Dr. Denise Kassebaum became Dean of the University of Colorado’s School of Dentistry.
  • Dr. Paula Jones, in 2008, became the first woman to hold the office of President of the Academy of General Dentistry.
  • In 2008, Dr. Susan Bordenave-Bishop became the first female president of the Academy of Dentistry International.
  • In June 2009, Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin was named Executive Director of the American Dental Association.

This is a sampling of the kind of women—leaders, role models and supporters—you will meet as a member of AAWD. Now over 1,400 members strong, AAWD is a dynamic, growing organization whose mission is “to be the recognized resource for connecting and enriching the lives of women dentists.” AAWD welcomes into the organization those from all walks of dentistry who support that mission.

AAWD also gives back to the community through its Smiles For Success Foundation, which was established in 1995 by Drs. Judith McFadden and Donna Rumberger. This volunteer program offers free dental care to women graduates of accredited job readiness and placement programs or other community-based agencies. You can learn more at www.smilesforsuccess.org

Mark your calendar and plan to join us in Chicago, June 24-26, 2010, for our 89th Annual Meeting, “A Taste of Dentistry in Chicago” and see what the fuss is about.

AAWD—building future leaders now.

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