What are the Barriers and Facilitators to Choosing Orthodontics as a Career
: Does Gender Have an Effect?

  • Jen L Jopson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)


Introduction: In recent years female representation within the specialty of orthodontics has increased. Whilst this may be suggestive of gender equality, women experience occupational segregation. Despite a significant proportion of dentists choosing to specialise in orthodontics, there is a national shortage of Orthodontic National Health Service (NHS) Consultants and clinical academics. There has been seldom research into the factors that reinforce gender disparities within orthodontics and the factors affecting career progression.
Aims: Through a gendered lens, this research investigated the barriers and facilitators that influence an orthodontic career. Using the concept of an ‘orthodontic pipeline’, the factors that cause the pipeline to ‘leak’ were investigated. Explanations of why gender disparities exist within orthodontics and why the profession experiences difficulties in the recruitment and retention to certain posts were explored.
Methodology: This qualitative study was undertaken at Bristol Dental Hospital and Bristol Dental School in 2018. Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants at different stages of an orthodontic career. In total 26 participants were recruited to the study. Eight focus groups, organised by gender and career stage, were conducted. The qualitative data was analysed using inductive thematic analysis.
Results: Five main themes were identified: motivations, facilitators, barriers, and advantages to pursuing an orthodontic career and orthodontic career options.
Conclusions: The movement of people along the orthodontic pipeline is complex and influenced by multiple factors. Many people experience conflicts between career aspirations and psychological, personal, financial, and institutional factors. Recruitment to senior orthodontic specialty posts and clinical academic training are recognised weak points in the orthodontic pipeline. The research draws attention to the factors that reinforce gender disparities in orthodontics. Urgent work needs to be undertaken to address this gender inequality as well as combat the issues undermining recruitment and retention.
Date of Award26 Nov 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorPatricia Neville (Supervisor) & Tony Ireland (Supervisor)

Cite this