Women in dentistry
Women have practised dentistry for centuries, initially as tooth- drawers. The earliest evidence of this can be seen in a French print from the late 16th century depicting a female dentist at work.
In 1544, when the barbersurgeons received their charter from Henry VIII, women were admitted under the same terms as men. They weren’t, however, allowed to wear the livery because that would have entitled them to a vote in the City of London.
In 1878, the Dentists Act barred women from the new Dentists’ Register. This was because they were refused entry to the dental schools and so could not gain the necessary qualifications. Women did the same as countless other practitioners who had not joined the Register – they continued to practise, but did not use the term ‘dentist’ or ‘dental surgeons’ in any of their advertisements or trade directories.
Lilian Lindsay ( née Murray) became the first woman in the UK to qualify as a dentist in 1895, having studied at Edinburgh Dental Hospital. She practised as a dentist until 1920, when she became an Honorary Librarian at the British Dental Association, founding the first library there.
English dental schools did not admit women to LDS courses until 1908 and Lily Fanny Pain was the first female to qualify with an English LDS four years later. By 1937, 3.2 per cent of registered dentists were women and by 2020, it’s predicted that over 50 per cent of all UK dentists will be female.
Female ld dentistsi are mocked kd by Punch magazine in 1879