Gender Balance Shifting in Dental Professions

Riddle me this

A father and his son are in a car accident. The father dies instantly, and the son is rushed to the nearest hospital.
Just as the boy is about to receive treatment, the doctor comes in and exclaims “I can’t treat this boy, he’s my son.”

How is this possible? The son is not adopted, he is the biological child of two heterosexual parents.

If you guessed the doctor could be the boy’s mother, you’re a part of a surprising minority.

Aiming to examine gender biases in 2014, a group of UK researchers ran this riddle by 300 children and young adults aged 7 to 25. Only a small minority of subjects—14.5 per cent—came up with the mum’s-the-doctor answer.

What made imagining a doctor mum so difficult? Gender schemas— when gendered characteristics are maintained and transmitted to other members of a culture.

This gen(d)eralisation isn’t hard to comprehend in Australia. In 1986, 25 per cent of GPs and 16 per cent of  medical specialists were women (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

Today however, the reality is rapidly changing, with women overtaking men in a number of medical fields, including, since recently, dentistry.

Women are outnumbering men in dental professions

The Dental Board of Australia’s June quarterly report showed that for the first time, females now make up slightly more than half (50.2 per cent) of all dental practitioners.

This margin is set to increase—of the 732 current student members of the Australian Dental Association Victorian branch, 410 are female and 322 male. This includes students at the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and overseas.

Dr Susan Wise, a specialist periodontist told the Sydney Morning Herald that of 127 Australian Dental Council student members, 90 were women and 37 men. “The number of female students has increased markedly  since I graduated,” she added.

References: ADA, Sydney Morning Herald

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