Being a woman in dentistry used to mean years of struggle. Now, the experience couldn’t be more different.
Dr. Glenda Owen graduated from dental school in the early 80s. In her last two blogs, she related the challenges she faced while receiving an education, as well as how percentages of women dentists and the model of a dental practice have changed. Below, she discusses success while managing a family and career.
Wife or Work: Struggles of an 80s Woman in Dentistry
Many of us, with a household and children to manage in addition to a career, chimed in on a dialogue that was already present in the 80s culture regarding “having/doing it all.” This was not a conversation among most male dentists.
Our older male colleagues often had a wife who managed the domestic and family affairs. But as more and more women entered the work force, we and our male counterparts experienced the strain of trying to manage office and home fronts and keep peace in the marriage.
One friend of mine, a pediatric dentist with three kids and a lawyer husband, mused in the 1980s, “There are lots of single moms out there; some of them just happen to be married.”
The bottom line is that we have learned success at home and at work require an equal partnership on the domestic front. Otherwise, burnout and frustration, along with stressed relationships, are bound to occur.
At Pankey, we have been ahead of the curve. Our core values, represented by the Cross of Life, have put balance and relationship at the forefront of our conversations. This is bound to impact the home life for all of us, men and women alike.
In our classes, I have been impressed with the young men who talk about managing kids and helping with domestic chores alongside their wives/partners who often have their own careers. Granted, this is a cultural phenomenon across all careers, but it is a pleasure to witness nonetheless.
As women dental students graduate and continue to increase their percentage among practitioners, I trust that a male professor could no longer get away with telling a woman that she is taking a position that could have been used by a man. It is simply irrelevant and archaic. And that is some of the best news yet.
How do you approach balance and relationship? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!