A1 Journal article (refereed), original research

Gender differences in dentistry: A qualitative study on students’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for entering dentistry at higher education

Publication Details
Authors: Kærsgaard Jens Laurs Brøndum, Christensen Mette Krogh, Søndergaard Pernille Yde, Naukkarinen Johanna
Publisher: Wiley: 12 months
Publication year: 2020
Language: English
Related Journal or Series Information: European Journal of Dental Education
ISSN: 1396-5883
eISSN: 1600-0579
JUFO-Level of this publication: 1
Open Access: Not an Open Access publication



Having a balanced gender distribution is thought to
ensure the diversity of knowledge and know‐how and take better into
account the different needs in society. The aim of the study is to
explore and understand possible gender differences in 1) the students’
motivational spectrum to choose a dental education and 2) their prospect
of a professional career in dentistry.


We conducted in‐depth interviews with male and female
dental students (n=14) followed by a theoretical reading based on
Self‐Determination Theory to explore the students’ intrinsic and
extrinsic motivations for entering dentistry in Denmark.


Regardless gender the dental students are motivated by
role models, people‐orientation, and strong interest in health sciences,
but prefer dentistry to medicine, because of the responsibilities and
working conditions. They were also motivated by the dental school’s
combination of theory and practice in students’ learning of
craftsmanship. Moreover, students valued the prospect of job security
and a good work‐life balance. However, there were markedly gender
differences in motivation in relation to financial incentives as well as
working life and career as a dentist, as it seemed that dental students
needed gendered relatedness in relation to specialization and
employment in public versus private sector.


The motivational spectrum varies widely, regardless of
gender. In line with the standpoint feminist theory, a balanced gender
distribution in dental education helps to meet the different needs in
society and labour market. Consequently, a gender‐sensitive recruitment
strategy reflecting the gender differences in identities, knowledge and
interests will be needed.

Last updated on 2020-19-11 at 07:34