Image of OP editor.This AAO Annual Session in Philadelphia will be my first, but I won’t be the only one experiencing a first. For the first time in its 113-year history, the organization will welcome a female president.

To say that the profession looked a lot different when Gayle Glenn, DDS, MSD, entered it some 30 years ago would be an understatement. While the basic principles of orthodontics are the same, the technological advancements—from clear aligners to digital radiography—have transformed the way patients are treated.

However, the orthodontic landscape looked much different back then for another reason. When Glenn entered the profession in 1984, only 3% of orthodontists were women and there were few, if any, in leadership roles in the AAO. To put it simply, for women entering the field at that time, there were few role models to look to.

But how times have changed.

Not only do women currently account for the majority of students in graduate and professional programs in general, according to Glenn, women now make up nearly half of the new orthodontic graduates specifically. In addition, the AAO reports that in 2012 women made up 21% of the organization’s total membership—that’s a 7% increase from 2007 alone. What do these numbers mean? They mean that first-time female attendees at this Annual Session in Philadelphia can walk the exhibit halls and listen to lectures with even more of their female counterparts than ever before. And more importantly, they can look to more female role models in the organization who have created thriving careers while successfully navigating some of the issues—for example, balancing work and family—that disproportionately affect female professionals.

But the increasing role of women in the organization is important for another reason: diversity. With diversity comes approachability. And as Glenn says in our profile story, as more women become a part of the orthodontic profession, the profession itself becomes more approachable. For any profession to thrive, there needs to be a sense that all are welcome, and that once inside, they will be able to connect and share the experience with their peers. Camaraderie is vital.

Now for me, this AAO meeting is an opportunity to absorb as much information and make as many connections as possible so that I can continue to make Orthodontic Products a useful information source for you. I’m looking forward to it and to seeing all of you in Philadelphia. OP



Alison Werner is the chief editor for Orthodontic Products. She can be reached at [email protected].