FOCUS ON – Women in Dentistry

Written by: Anne M. Duffy, RDH


Anne M. Duffy, RDH, discusses the growth of women in dentistry and how patients and teams benefit from the changing landscape. 

women in dentistry

Anne M. Duffy, RDH

Q: Is the future of dentistry female? 

A: The landscape of dentistry is changing as more women become involved in the field. Recent statistics show that 56% of graduating dentists, 93% of dental hygienists, 91% of dental assistants, and 90.3% of office managers are women. The numbers don’t lie—women are here, and we’re making our mark in dentistry. 

However, the future of dentistry isn’t limited by gender. Instead, we’ll be able to propel it forward by leaps and bounds when men and women come together to collaborate, in large part because men are still sitting in the drivers’ seats in companies, corporate entities, and leadership positions. We are learning from each other, and together, we are tackling the long-standing gender gap that exists in dentistry, breaking down stereotypes, and opening doors for more women to pursue dental careers and their dreams. 

Q: Why is female leadership important?

A: The saying is “men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” I believe it! And that is a great thing. Feminine leadership focuses on relationships and can help create a more diverse workplace where everyone feels included and respected. It is essential that women in positions of authority take the lead in providing an inclusive environment and empowering people of all backgrounds to succeed. Women must also support each other and champion one another’s ideas to create an atmosphere of success. 

One of the most amazing things about being human is the ability to learn from others’ success. Seeing women at the top gives us the knowledge that it is possible and the confidence to dream big. By embracing and incorporating the strengths of each individual in the organization, female leadership can inspire creativity, innovation, and progress. It is up to female leaders to promote a diverse workplace and ensure everyone can reach their full potential.

Q: How important is connection and community? 

A: Connection and community are everything. We do not thrive alone, and coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we realize how much we crave community. Women are natural at nurturing relationships and are intentional in seeking them out. Coming together in the community gives us the gift of support and collaboration, a sense of hope, and the possibility to truly effect change.

Now more than ever, it is imperative that we focus on lifting each other to further women’s empowerment and create a place of belonging. From movements focused on expanding roles to increasing the number of female business leaders, it has been inspiring to witness the many steps taken toward progress. The power of connection is evident in Women in Dentistry, founded by Dr. Effie Habsha; WinDSO, founded by Dr. Aman Kaur; Mommy Dentists in Business, founded by Dr. Grace Yum; AADOM, founded by Heather Colicchio; Guiding Leaders, founded by Stephenie Goddard; and many other organizations, such as ADHA and AAWD. My organization, Dental Entrepreneur Woman (DeW Life), supports them all!

Q: Do women have advantages in dentistry?

A: Historically, women were underrepresented in the industry, but the landscape of dentistry is changing. Female dentists are taking their rightful place in the industry, and the impact is evident. With women dentists on the rise, patients and teams can benefit from greater diversity and expertise in their oral health care. 

In contrast, dentists gain increased job opportunities and greater potential to express their talents and unique approaches to patient care. Women have been blessed with the power of creativity, intelligence, and resourcefulness. The possibilities for patient care and growth in the field have never been more promising. 

Q: What does “DeW” stand for?

A: “DeW” stands for “dental entrepreneur woman.” In my mind, all women are entrepreneurs. We spin at least 5 to 10 plates at any one time while wearing heels and dancing backward. That is my definition of an entrepreneur, and it is our nature. Women need other women in their lives. We thrive in relationships, and it is lonely without a tribe. Knowing many women in different segments of dentistry over my long career, I felt a need to bring love and an understanding of strengths to the forefront of dentistry. 

We open our arms and invite all women to sit at our table. It is only together that we can make a difference. Women in dentistry are powerful, brave, caring, collaborative, loving, beautiful, and unstoppable. As DeWs, we embrace our unique talents to become forces for good in the world. When you step out of your comfort zone and lean into your talents, it has a ripple effect on everyone around you. 

DeW inspires women to be their best and strive for greatness as a community because when one of us wins, we all win. 

Q: Do you have any last thoughts?

A: When I started DeW Life, my initial goal was to highlight women in dentistry. Quickly, our mission became a movement to empower, inspire, and connect women in dentistry to lead themselves and others. 

The notion of women’s empowerment has sparked a hopeful sense of vibrant change. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we focus on connecting all women in our profession, regardless of their career paths. When we lift each other up, we further women’s empowerment and create an equitable world. 

Together, we can do small things with great impact. Let’s DeW it!


Ms. Duffy is the founder and CEO of Dental Entrepreneur Media. She can be reached at