For over the last 20 years, approximately 70% of working dentists in Finland have been women. However, there is internal division of the profession along gender lines. Female dentists work more often in the public sector and male dentists in the private sector. The aim of this study was to investigate the gender differences in young dentists’ early career choices, specialization plans, values and perceptions of professional identity.
Materials and methods
The data were taken from a national e‐mail questionnaire study called “Young Dentist,” which was sent to 458 dentists who had received their licence to practise dentistry in 2014‐2016 from all four universities with dental curricula in Finland. A total of 52% young dentists (n = 238) answered the questionnaire.
Results and discussion
The results indicated that whereas female dentists were more likely to perceive themselves as comforters, social workers and health promoters, male dentists tended to perceive themselves as technicians. These professional identities were interrelated with early‐stage career choices in which female dentists worked more often in the public than in the private sector when compared to male dentists. There were also clear gender differences in the importance of values and the specialization plans of the young dentists.
Young dentists in Finland make career choices and develop professional identity in accordance with the attributes traditionally associated with cultural ideals related to femininity and masculinity.