Are Women Finally Equal?

Written by: Maggie Augustyn, DDS


I once had a conversation with a woman who said she wished we (women) never entered the workforce; she had wished that we never fought for equal rights. I don’t necessarily consider myself a feminist, but I’d silently gasped at her comment and then took weeks, if not months, to unpack it. And since then, there have been many moments when I’d agreed with her. With us entering the workforce; working full time; and rising to become industry leaders, CEOs of corporations, deans of universities, prime ministers, and vice presidents, we’d begun to imagine that women had gained equal ground. Yes, since August of 1920, women have been allotted a vote, being called “equal” to a man. Yet when we look at what we assume is equal ground, it is still terribly fraught with inequities and inequalities. 

I fulfill both traditional male and female roles in my life. I have always ensured the fridge is stocked, done laundry in breaks from virtual coursework, volunteered hundreds of hours a year for my daughter’s school, and kept the business profitable. I have been stuck in a cycle of considering myself a “less than” mother, refusing to consider myself financially successful (as I compare myself to men). I feel guilty working because I don’t spend enough time with my kid, yet I am placing implants as she’s with me while sick, laying on the couch of my private office. I have felt inept at continuing education courses, being surrounded by well-read and accomplished men—men whose wives are at home, not having joined the workforce, fulfilling their sole traditional roles of tending to the children. To get up; to go to work; and to return to a clean home, a home-cooked dinner, and managed children—what a life that must be, as opposed to getting up, getting my daughter ready for school, working without a break, and returning home guilt-stricken after picking her up from aftercare. Then I’m rushing to get groceries, toting to various activities, and following up with fundraising for her school at night. These are not the tales I hear about men in my career path. We may be an equal in voting, but somehow the equality is lacking as it translates into real life. 

As a business owner; a healthcare provider (neurotic dentist, specifically); an author and columnist; a podcaster; an inspirational speaker; a lifelong learner; a wife of 21-plus years; and, most importantly, a mother to a 12-year-old daughter, the balancing act that is my life takes tremendous coordination. Motherhood, as I claim, comes first, though I am not often seen as living that truth. My role of a wife is of utmost importance in fulfilling my life’s purpose, but once again, judged in not being as crucial as I claim. My role as a member of a community of dentists, business owners, and thought proponents is often labeled as being most self-indulgent. I have been told that I am a bad mother for traveling to conferences and that my lack of time to prepare and serve dinner makes me a less desirable spouse. I fulfill the traditional role of a man in being the breadwinner, financially stabilizing my family’s future, and providing employment to a 15-member team. I make more money than most men on this planet yet have been quieted in important transactions. I function under tremendous guilt and navigate an overwhelming amount of pressure, maybe self-induced, maybe not. And all of that is because women have been given the opportunity of equality in the workplace without removing anything from our plates. The lack of acknowledgment for what we do and who we have become makes it all the more difficult. And so, though I gasped initially at the idea of resentment at our joining the workforce, I sincerely understand the sentiment.

As women leaders in this field, in any field, we are blurring the lines that used to divide and define traditional gender roles. We are undoing a separation that took thousands of years to predetermine. And in examining it all, in evaluating my own standing within this community and within my family, I have come to realize this: I am not an equal. I am not a man’s equal. I was never supposed to be. To come to the place where men alone used to stand, I’ve had to work harder than those men before me. I have had to grow faster and stronger; with that, a man can no longer compete. And thus, if I am not a man’s equal; if I’ve had to achieve more and advance further to be judged as mediocre; if I’m no longer his subservient, submissive, or inferior, what am I? Maybe that’s for the future generations to judge. But I will tell you this: I’ll do it all and I’ll do it happily, if for nothing else than to give my daughter an opportunity to be a leader. To give women a voice, a seat at the table, a chance to serve this world, to create lasting change. And perhaps as she has grown daughters, per Sheryl Sandberg, she will live in a world “where there are no female leaders, just leaders.”


Dr. Augustyn is a practicing general dentist, owner of Happy Tooth, author, and inspirational speaker. She earned her DDS from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also an alumnus of Dawson Academy. Benedictine University awarded her the Rising Star Award (2015), presented to an alumnus who has made considerable strides in their career and has demonstrated dedication to philanthropic endeavors.

She lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and daughter. She can be reached via email at

You can read more from her in her column, “Mindful Moments,” at


Maggie Augustyn, DDS

Disclosure: Dr. Augustyn reports no disclosures.