It’s been almost two years since I started working with Schumacher & Bauer, DDS. I have met so many wonderful people and am really enjoying my time here! However, I still get the question “Are you the dentist?” The question regarding gender roles in dentistry never bothers me, and I feel honored that I get to be the one to expose patients to something they have never experienced before: a male hygienist.
During June many across the world celebrate pride. This celebration includes highlighting different gender roles, which includes gender roles in the workplace. So let’s look at some statistics!
In 2017 a six-month study revealed that 60% of physicians under the age of 35 are female while 40% are male. But in the nursing world, according to the 2017 census bureau, only 9% of nurses are male. These trends of women fulfilling more “typical” male roles but not men in “typical” female roles continue in the dental world, too. First year dental students who are female increased from 15.9% in 1978 to 47.7% in 2014, while male dental hygienists (or Guygenists!) still only represent 2% of the profession.
Gender roles have taken a huge step to the front of the media today, and I think for good reason. People do not like to be defined solely by their gender. They want to be free to do whatever it is that they want without judgement and people making assumptions about gender roles.
This isn’t just about me (a male) being good at my job (which is typically held by a female). This is also about you, the patient, feeling comfortable. I’ve heard people say that they are conceptually OK with seeing a male hygienist, but the follow through is hard.
I get it! Change is hard. But these are the small uncomfortable moments that are going to make the big moments easier. Going beyond just being OK with a change in the gender role of your dental hygienist and actually enjoying it and accepting it without reserve is the small step toward big change this world needs!
So come see me. Let’s take this journey together!
So no, I’m still not a dentist. I’m the male dental hygienist that can make your teeth feel amazing!
Author: Jake Hanely
Jake is a recent graduate of Columbus State in Dental Hygiene, May 2017. He was born and raised in Columbus and in his spare time spends time with his niece and nephew.