Dentistry should be proud of the work it has done to ensure female and minority representation throughout the profession. But the job isn’t finished. Here’s what we’re doing to keep moving forward.
By RICK COHEN AND CHUCK COHEN
WELCOME TO OUR ninth annual Lucy Hobbs Awards edition of Incisal Edge, which recognizes the female leading lights who are making an enormous positive impact on dentistry nationwide. These awards are in fact part of a much larger initiative that we inaugurated in 2013: The Lucy Hobbs Project, which honors the first American woman to earn a degree in dentistry, celebrates women’s achievements while simultaneously aiming to drive change and increase representation through networking, innovation and giving back.
Now more than 10,000 members strong, the Lucy Hobbs Project unites women from all facets of the profession: dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, researchers, journalists, product developers and anyone else who supports our mission. We hope you’ll take a moment to learn more about it and consider joining our movement (it’s free to do so) by visiting TheLucyHobbsProject.com.
Giving back has long been part of our DNA at Benco Dental. We earmark at least 5 percent of profits annually for our Benco Family Foundation, supporting organizations and initiatives dedicated to advancing dental health care for practitioners and patients.
The Benco Family Foundation helped create the Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman Scholarship, dentistry’s first-ever scholarship established through the United Negro College Fund and the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation. Named for America’s first black dentist, it was announced in November with $200,000 in total initial support from Patterson Dental, 3M and the Benco Family Foundation. And the industry is quickly lining up behind our goal to expand participation and increase that figure to over $500,000.
Although women now make up more than 50 percent of dental-school enrollees, according to the American Dental Association, the number of underrepresented minorities remains low and continues to fluctuate. Clearly, we have lots of catching up to do. Everyone here at Benco Dental is keenly aware that, as the country’s leading independent dental distributor, we’re prominent industry stakeholders. We take that responsibility seriously and are committed to making change happen.
The best future for dentistry is one that’s inextricably tied to change. This year’s Lucy Hobbs Awards winners exemplify what’s possible when an ever-increasing number of women and minorities enter our profession: Barriers to entry are broken down, more care is extended to the underserved and the art and science of dental health care are driven forward more rapidly than ever. We’re humbled to be part of making it happen, and delighted that you, our readers, can be part of this exciting journey.