For starters, let’s talk about Emeline Roberts Jones, who hid her hobby for dentistry from her dentist-husband until he found out she’d been extracting hundreds (yes hundreds!) of teeth behind his back. Eventually, he brought her on as partner and in 1865, when he died, she took over his practice. Brave, bold, and talented—just how we like ‘em.
Except Jones didn’t have a dental degree and was practicing strictly from self-taught lessons and experience. The first woman to actually earn her DDS had her office in McGregor, Iowa. Her name was Lucy Hobbs Taylor, an orphan with 8 siblings who fought for years to get into dental school. At the time, it was believed women couldn’t make good dentists because of their frail, “shaky fingers.” We applaud you Lucy for proving them wrong!
Ida Gray was yet another woman who made lasting waves in the field of dentistry when she became the first African-American female dentist. She became famous in Cincinnati and Chicago for seeing both black and white patients, something not many had done before. Thank you Ida, for opening eyes and hearts and making a difference.
Fast-forward to today, and powerful women are still making waves. The director of the National Institute of Dental-Cranial Research (NIDCR – a division of the National institute of health) is a woman named Martha Somerman. Martha’s one of the most powerful dentists in the country and manages a budget of more than $400 million. Now that’s a lot of teeth and money!
Kathleen O’Loughlin is the current executive director of the American Dental Association and travels around the country speaking about oral health care delivery, public health policy, and dental practitioner mental health and wellness. She’s dedicated her entire career to improving the lives and health of others—no matter their background.
And if you look around at our Moellers & Moellers office, you’ll notice 7 out of the 8 employees here are women, including Heather—our in-house superwoman. Heather’s love for dentistry started early, in 3rd grade she was one of 10 finalists for an Iowa Dental Association poster contest, earning a trip to the IDA in Des Moines. In college, she pursued dentistry because it combined art with science and health care, three of her favorite things. Since graduation, she’s continued to leave her mark on dentistry and treats each client who sits in her chair like family.
We could go on for pages, but we’ll leave you with one last epic fact: Out of the 25,381 predoctoral dental students enrolled in 2019, 50.5% were female. Not just a win for women, but a win for us all.
Who’s a woman in your life deserving a celebration? We encourage you to tell her what she means to you and why you’re proud to know her.