How to Address Gender Inequity Within Dentistry

Investing in women employees is the best way to grow your business.

The dental industry has made great strides in addressing gender imbalance: women now graduate in equal numbers from dental school. But women remain underrepresented when it comes to leading our industry. Today, women make up 95% of hygienists, but less than a third of dentists. 

Research shows that gender diversity increases innovation and productivity. Hiring women in leadership roles will ultimately drive up the bottom line and prepare your organization for long-term growth and success. At, tab32, we’re doing just that: today, 60% of our top leaders are women. 

How did tab32 build a women-led team? The answer is simple: we’ve invested in women, taken risks, and shown women they’re valued. Here’s what that means in practice:

1. Hire women leaders. With industry-wide extreme staffing shortages, we have an opportunity to attract new talent. Bringing women into senior roles requires existing leaders to step up: create diverse hiring committees, and prove your commitment to equity with conscious hiring, competitive compensation, and promotion policies.

2. Use tech to drive retention. Women often take thankless frontline jobs when they start out. Replacing tired tech with more effective digital tools can eliminate friction and boost retention. Cloud solutions that enable remote working can also help women to balance domestic obligations and deliver value for your organization.

3. Help women grow. Don’t let women be held back by low expectations. Give all your workers opportunities to think creatively, strengthen patient relationships, and boost revenues. The more you treat employees as knowledge workers, and not mere paper-pushers, the more they’ll flourish. 

4. Network like crazy. If you’re a woman, make it your personal mission to forge connections with other women. If you’re junior, they will lift you up; if you’re more senior, you can offer mentorship. Either way, we all benefit. Men aren’t off the hook, either: it’s your job to advocate in rooms that women aren’t in, and to invite female colleagues to network alongside you to foster long lasting success. 

5. Let women lead. To cultivate women leaders, remember that your best future leaders might be in roles you don’t think of as “leadership track.” It’s up to you to unlock their potential. Help employees set KPIs and tangible career metrics in order to cultivate leadership momentum. 

Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did — backwards, in heels. Similarly, women who overcome challenges to rise to the top of the dental industry are major assets to employers: whip-smart, tough, and full of energy.

At tab32, we know supporting women is about making our business the best it can be. Half our patients are women, and we need female perspectives to meet their needs. If you aren’t helping women to lead, you’re wasting human capital, and holding back your business. 

In fact, tab32 has become a talent-magnet as word of our diversity has spread, and we often hear from women seeking new opportunities. The bottom line: to retain great employees, or draw industry-leading talent to your organization, it pays to invest in women.