Gender differences in dentistry: A qualitative study on students’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for entering dentistry at higher education

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Having a balanced gender distribution is thought to ensure the diversity of knowledge and know‐how and take better into account the different needs in society. The aim of the study is to explore and understand possible gender differences in (a) the students’ motivational spectrum to choose a dental education and (b) their prospect of a professional career in dentistry.

We conducted in‐depth interviews with male and female dental students (n = 14) followed by a theoretical reading based on Self‐Determination Theory to explore the students’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for entering dentistry in Denmark.

Regardless gender, the dental students are motivated by role models, people orientation and strong interest in health sciences, but prefer dentistry to medicine, because of the responsibilities and working conditions. They were also motivated by the dental school's combination of theory and practice in students’ learning of craftsmanship. Moreover, students valued the prospect of job security and a good work‐life balance. However, there were markedly gender differences in motivation in relation to financial incentives as well as working life and career as a dentist, as it seemed that dental students needed gendered relatedness in relation to specialisation and employment in public versus private sector.

The motivational spectrum varies widely, regardless of gender. In line with the standpoint feminist theory, a balanced gender distribution in dental education helps to meet the different needs in society and labour market. Consequently, a gender‐sensitive recruitment strategy reflecting the gender differences in identities, knowledge and interests will be needed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Dental Education
Number of pages11
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

    Research areas

  • ATTITUDES, CAREER CHOICE, DENTAL STUDENTS, PATTERNS, PEOPLE, SCIENCE, SELF-DETERMINATION, TECHNOLOGY, WOMEN, dental education, determination theory, educational choice, gender, self&#8208, student motivation

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ID: 201780508