Today, women make up almost half of all dental school students, and about 25% of all practicing dentists. It was not always so, however. In America, prior to the 1970’s, women made up less than 3.5% of all dentists. In the last 45 years, women have made significant changes to the world of dentistry. More women than ever are obtaining degrees, establishing dental practices, and making strides in the dental profession.
In the late 1800’s women began to have a presence in dental schools and the dental profession, although that presence was very minimal. According to Hannelore T. Loevy and Aletha A. Kowitz in “Dental education for women dentists in the United States: The beginnings”, American dental schools began to accept women into their programs in 1866, when the first woman was enrolled in a dental program. By 1891-1893, there were 69 women in dental programs across the United States, making up 2.3% of dental school students. Many University dental school programs, however, took a little longer to start accepting women into their programs; one prominent dental school, for example, waited until 1952 to accept women into their dental school.