Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Feminization of Professions: The Case of Women in Dentistry (1)

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Feminization of Professions: The Case of Women in Dentistry (1)

Article excerpt

Abstract: The potential impact of feminization upon professions is examined through a case study of the Ontario dental profession. Women are entering dentistry in larger numbers, and if women practice differently than men, then their increased participation may alter the nature of dental practice. Using data from a survey of dentists in Ontario conducted in 2002 (N=484), this study finds that there are very few differences between male and female dentists in terms of practice characteristics and attitudes towards practise. Although men and women tend to differ in their practice type and average income, they, on average, resemble one another in terms of working hours, practice location and professional attitudes. Nevertheless, age emerged as an important mediating factor and some gender differences do exist amongst the younger cohorts of dentists. The implications of these findings for dentistry, and the feminization of professions more generally, are discussed.

Resume: Cet article examine l'impact potentiel de la feminisation sur les professions au moyen d'une etude de cas dans les professions dentaires en Ontario. Les femmes embrassent la medecine dentaire en grand nombre et si elles pratiquent cet art differemment des hommes, alors leur plus grande participation a la profession peut modifier la nature meme de la pratique dentaire. A partir de donnees provenant d'un sondage far en 2002 (N=484) aupres de dentistes en Ontario, l'etude a revele qu'il y avait tres peu de differences entre les dentistes hommes et femmes en ce qui a trait aux caracteristiques de la pratique et leur attitude a l'egard de celle-ci. Bien que les hommes et les femmes different dans leur genre de pratique et revenu moyen, ils se ressemblent en general, en ce qui concerne leurs beures de travail, l'emplacement de leur pratique et leurs attitudes professionnelles. Pourtant, l'age est apparu comme etant un facteur mediateur et il existe certes des differences de genre chez les cohortes plus jeunes de dentistes. Les implications de ces conclusions pour l'art dentaire et la feminisation des professions en general y sont traitees.

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In recent decades, countries like Canada have witnessed a feminization of professional employment. Women have been moving into formerly male-dominated professions in great numbers. According to the 2001 Canadian census, women compose 34 percent of all lawyers, 33 percent of all medical doctors, and 27.6 percent of all dentists. A continuing increase in women's participation is forecast for the next several years as currently women make up roughly half of all new graduates and students in each of these professions (McKenzie Leiper, 2003; McMurray et al., 2002; O'Keefe, 2000). This trend first became an issue of sociological discussion and debate over a decade ago. Many scholars and professional practitioners alike have wondered what the impact of women's participation within male-dominated professions will be (for example, Muzzin et al., 1994; O'Keefe, 2000; Riska, 2001; Frize, 1997). Does the entrance of women signal a decline in professional status? Does it engender change in the nature of professional practice itself? A number of studies have explored these issues, but few concrete answers are evident.

In this paper, I explore the impact of feminization within male-dominated professions through a case study of dentistry in Ontario. Dentistry has feminized more slowly than the professions of pharmacy, law and medicine, but it has experienced a greater influx of women than other stubbornly male-dominated professions like engineering and architecture. While a number of studies have explored the movement of women into pharmacy, medicine and law, little attention has been paid to women's entrance into dentistry. Yet, because of the slower rate of women's entrance, and the greater incidence of private practice amongst dentists compared to other professionals, dentistry provides an interesting case for the study of feminization. …

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