Faculty diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic dentistry: Has dental education missed the call of #MeToo?

What is it?

A discussion of sexism and harassment in dental academia, its negative impact, and the steps that could be taken to address the problem.

What problem does it aim to solve?

Sexism and harassment create a hostile environment for women in dental schools, whether as students, faculty, or staff. Unfortunately, dental schools do not have a consistent approach to addressing the problem, and targets of this behavior often don’t report for fear of negative consequences, or when they do attempt to report, are met with minimizing responses or dismissal of their experiences.

How does it work?

Four true anecdotes with identifying details removed are presented and analyzed, followed by strategies and recommendations for dental institutions to put into use.

What are the real-world implications?

“Leaders of dental institutions may not be aware that seemingly benign comments and behaviors contribute to normalizing sexual discrimination and abuse. Some are taking steps to combat the decades of injustice, others are contributing to unhealthy culture, and some deny the existence of cultural problems at their institutions. Because of this, it will take an external force to exert authority over dental institutions to go beyond policies, mandatory training, and climate surveys.”

What are the next steps?

To enact a series of reforms at all levels, from individual departments to organized dentistry, “the latter two aspects of the quality assurance standard are what must be incorporated into the standard on a humanistic environment to assure that dental institutions are held accountable for taking action based on the results of climate surveys. In addition, CODA standards for advanced education programs currently do not include language about creating, maintaining, or evaluating their programs for a humanistic culture. This must be changed.”


Faculty diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic dentistry: Has dental education missed the call of #MeToo?”, Journal of Dental Education, Volume 86, Issue 9, September 2022, Pages 1174-1181


Pamela Zarkowski JD, MPH
University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Michelle Brady BDS
University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, San Francisco, California, USA

Sophia G. Saeed DMD, MBA
University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, Farmington, Connecticut, USA