A former Professor of Dentistry at the University of Manchester has been named the highest-ranking female dentist in the UK.
Professor Liz Kay, 53, who is now dean of the Peninsula Dental School in Plymouth, was awarded the accolade by the Dentistry Magazine, coming fourth in the Top 50 UK Dentists poll.
Speaking of her accomplishment, she said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have won, especially as there has never previously been a woman higher than 15th place on the list. It’s a sign that women are making real inroads into dentistry.”
The pioneer became one of the first female dental professors in the UK when she was appointed to the University of Manchester in the 1990s, where she worked for 15 years.
She claims it is where she shaped her career, saying: “Manchester is a fantastic place to work. It’s a very high-level dental school and obviously I could never have become dean of the new school in Peninsula without the experience I had in Manchester.”
Throughout her career, Professor Kay has campaigned to get more women into the higher echelons of academia, something which the University of Manchester has always excelled at.
She said: “Manchester was one of the first universities to really recognise the lack of women at the higher levels across academia and they took action about it, providing mentors for younger women.”
Professor Kay said the lack of women at the top of the academic ladder is a particular problem in medical and dental schools; a problem which has been recognised by the government, who are now trying to tackle the issue.
Although the gender distribution at entry-level is equal across the profession, there are significantly fewer women than men at the higher end of the spectrum. As Professor Kay said: “It seems that it’s harder for women to get promoted to the top ranks.
“Women have less sense of entitlement, so they have to be just that bit more determined and express a sense of confidence in their own ability, which I think perhaps doesn’t come as naturally to women as it does to men.
“Those women who have chipped that hole through the glass ceiling have an absolute duty to put their hand back down through it and haul other women up behind them.”