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Dental Protection celebrates first women in dentistry

Post date: 06/03/2020 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 13/03/2020

Dental Protection is part of MPS, which currently has over 155,000 female members around the world. This represents more than half of our membership - and that figure is on the rise.

Historically, it wasn’t easy for women to enter the profession, since medical and dental schools were not opened to women and they had to pass their exams incognito before being able to officially register. The first female dental professionals appear to have joined the register in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Research by MPS has revealed that two of the earliest women dentists to join the organisation - then known as the London and Counties Medical Protection Society – did so within a few years of it being founded in 1892.

Ruby Grace Halliday was the first female dentist member, having joined in 1902. Ruby worked at the Endell Street military hospital in London during the First World War, which was the only hospital entirely staffed by suffragists and led by one of our earliest women medical members, Louisa Garrett Anderson.

Eva Mary Handley was the first woman dental surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital, joining three years later in 1905.

These two women could be regarded as the pioneers of dentistry in the UK and certainly led the way for female members of what is now Dental Protection.

Professor Dame Jane Dacre, President of the Medical Protection Society, said:

“Although it wasn’t until the turn of the century that women were seen as entering the medical and dental profession officially – and being able to study, register and be remunerated for their work –healthcare began at home and within communities, and caring for the infirmed had long been the responsibility of women.

“Nowadays, although almost half of healthcare workers are women, we still have structural barriers to overcome in order to improve the access of women to senior positions.

“It has not been an easy journey, but I am proud of the work of Dental Protection and the wider MPS does to support the efforts of women – who now account for more than half of our membership.”


Notes to editors

For further information contact: [email protected] (+44) 207 640 5183.

About Dental Protection

Dental Protection is a registered trademark and a trading name of The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”). MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. Dental Protection protects and supports the professional interests of over 68,000 members worldwide. Membership provides access to expert advice and support together with the right to request indemnity for complaints or claims arising from professional practice.

Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.

Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.

MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

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