(yes, I did a whole project on dentures)
Yesterday (actually Thursday)at work a patient came in, and the first thing he said to me was that he had heard that there was a little girl here who could help fix up his teeth. I was the little girl he had heard about. I said yes, I could, and quickly figured out his problem, gave him some freezing, and left the room to let my assistant take an x-ray. When I left, he asked the assistant if I was a dentist. Yup, she said. He said he couldn't believe it. How could that little girl be a real dentist? When I went back in to take out his tooth, he asked me if I was strong enough to take his tooth out. My assistant, who has watched me take plenty of teeth, laughed and told him not to worry. Then I took the tooth out, just like I do at least five times a day.
The thing is, I am not a little girl. I have not been a little girl for a long time. This scenario has played out countless times in my 3.5 year career. People think I am the assistant. People think I only clean teeth. People think I only treat women. People think I only deal with kids. People think I am not strong enough. People think I don't do extractions. It's the reason I never go by my first name at work. My husband goes by "Jon" at work, and has never been asked if he is really the dentist. Sometimes I think maybe when I am forty, I will be taken more seriously. Or maybe if I wear a white coat that says "dentist." I don't know.
It's not something that bothers me on a day-to-day basis. Not at all. I guess I just find it interesting. We are still really surprised to see women in certain roles, and we still trust men more than women for certain things. I'm not trying to change the world, but I am happy to be showing people in my community that women can be professionals too.