2013-2014 AAO Board of Trustees, with Dr. Gayle Glenn ’84, front center
The number of women in orthodontics has multiplied over the past several decades. Now this 1984 alumna and AAO president offers her take on the specialty’s evolving demographics.
When Dr. Gayle Glenn completed the graduate orthodontic program at Baylor College of Dentistry in 1984, she was the fourth female resident in the program’s 20-year history and one of just 36 female American Association of Orthodontists members to graduate that year.
During the ’80s there was a significant increase nationwide in the number of women attending dental school, says Glenn, but the same was not true with graduate orthodontic programs.
“I was unaware that at the time I graduated from dental school the number of practicing orthodontists who were female was less than 3 percent,” says Glenn.
A lot can change in three decades.
Glenn is now the first female president of the AAO, and the number of female members to graduate from orthodontic programs each year has jumped to 145. Women also make up approximately 22 percent of practicing orthodontists.
Glenn, who treats patients at Kogut, Villaseñor and Glenn Dentistry — a Dallas practice she shares with two fellow alums who are pediatric dentists — offers an explanation for the upward trend, drawing parallels between dentistry and the specialty.
“We can choose to work as much or as little as we wish, often varying our schedules throughout our career,” says Glenn, who also taught part time in the orthodontic department for several years in the ’80s and ’90s. “We can decrease our work schedule as the demands from family obligations such as children or aging parents impact our life, often returning to a full-time work schedule at a later time.”
“Being the first female elected to the AAO Board of Trustees in 2004 was a huge honor and a milestone for women in the profession,” says Glenn. “I may be the first female to hold the position of AAO president in the 113-year history of the organization, but I will not be the last!”
Holding office within AAO is a reflection of the changing demographics of the association’s membership, Glenn adds.
“We are seeing more women becoming involved in leadership all the time,” says Glenn. “I do not see holding the office of president as much of a gender issue as I do a significant commitment to the time and effort it takes to be a leader in the organizations which represent dentistry and its specialties.”
All in a year’s work
Glenn has maintained a busy schedule since assuming the presidency of the American Association of Orthodontists in May. Here’s a look at a few of the things she’s focused on since then:
AAO Donated Orthodontic Services program
Where: New Jersey, Rhode Island, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas
What: The AAO formed this program in five pilot states in 2009 as a way to improve access to orthodontic care for children in need, and Glenn wants to see it expanded to other states during her term. AAO members can expect to hear more about this program at the April 2014 Annual Session in New Orleans.
European Orthodontic Society Congress
Where: Reykjavik, Iceland
What: Glenn represented the AAO where she met with international colleagues “with a similar mission — to advance the art and science of orthodontics for the benefit of our patients,” she says.
Graduate Orthodontic Residents Program
Where: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
What: Glenn met nearly 500 orthodontic residents from across the U.S. and Canada as they convened for their 25th annual summer meeting, sponsored in part by the AAO, the AAO Foundation and the American Board of Orthodontics.