Gender Issues in the Dental Curriculum

ADEA Symposium, March 2013

Appreciating the imperative that women’s health issues must be fully integrated into the dental school curriculum, ADEA revisited the 2012 Women’s Health in the Dental School Curriculum: Survey Report and Recommendations, which had included questions assessing attitudes and beliefs about dental education and IPE. The 2012 report contained many new and positive findings—foremost being that women’s health is being blended into curricula, rather than being presented as a stand-alone topic—and established a new paradigm that emphasizes the importance of team-based health care for both women and men.

The two-hour symposium Gender Issues in the Dental Curriculum, held on March 15, 2013, included a panel of three speakers, followed by a working group discussion.

Learning Objectives:

  • The major areas of progress that have occurred in dental school curricula regarding women’s health, including oral health.
  • Practice implications for women’s health in patient- and family-centered clinical care.
  • Policy recommendations that influence how women’s health is perceived and implemented as both an interdisciplinary science and a dental curriculum content area.


Women’s Health Across a Lifespan (Policy) PDF
Pamela Zarkowski, J.D., M.P.H.
University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry

Women’s Health in Interprofessional Education (IPE) and Practice
Paula K. Friedman, D.D.S., M.S.D., M.P.H.
Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine

Women’s Health in Research
Marilyn W. Woolfolk, M.S., D.D.S., M.P.H.
University of Michigan School of Dentistry

Summary of Working Group Discussions:


  • Include expanded definition of women’s health across a lifespan.
  • Support diversity policies with sensitivity training in under-addressed areas (LGBT, URM, etc.).
  • Increase dental and public health student collaborative experiences both in content and training.

Interprofessional Education:

  • Develop women’s health curriculum content. (Survey graduates to determine how IPE content influences professional development and practice.)
  • Review material given to dental students to assess what was missing from the content.
  • Support individual school IPE initiatives (surveys, pilot programs) that involve multiple disciplines.


  • Seek gender-specific data related to women’s oral health and health outcomes from published peer-reviewed reports.
  • Seek support for institutional and individual school research initiatives, such as surveys and training.
  • ADEA should partner with foundations for pilot project funding that supports capacity building for major grants.

Future Agenda

  • Integrate women’s health into existing courses and disciplines.
  • Promote the sharing of gender-related data within institutions.
  • Incorporate women’s health content diagonally throughout the curriculum.
  • Review CODA standards for gender-specific recommendations.
  • ADEA could create an instructional module for use in faculty development and training (CCI or MedEdPortal).