A Critical Analysis of Underrepresentation of Racialised Minorities in the UK Dental Workforce [Special issue of Community Dental Health, to be disseminated at the ‘Racism and oral health inequities’ International Association for Dental Research

R. Lala S.R. Baker V.E. Muirhead

A Critical Analysis of Underrepresentation of Racialised Minorities in the UK Dental Workforce [Special issue of Community Dental Health, to be disseminated at the ‘Racism and oral health inequities’ International Association for Dental Research

Authors: R. Lala S.R. Baker V.E. Muirhead
doi: 10.1922/CDH_IADRLala08

Abstract

This article analyses the underrepresentation of racialised minorities across the three stages of the dental workforce pipeline through the critical lens of power. The reformist view of power was used, which focuses on concealment caused by systemic biases. We observed adequate representation of racialised minorities in the first two stages of the pipeline; entry to dental schools and completion of dental education. However, the categorisation of diverse groups into a single ‘BAME’ category conceals the underrepresentation of Black people and those who experience intersectional forms of discrimination rooted in race, gender and class. We observed all racialised minorities to be underrepresented in the third stage of the pipeline; career development and progression. The data suggest that institutional processes are more likely to recruit and promote White1 people, and racialised minorities are more likely to be exposed to bullying and inequitable disciplinary processes. Consistently across dental institutions, as the level of seniority increases, the representation of racialised minorities decreases. Thus, senior decision-making and agenda-setting spaces in UK dentistry are overwhelmingly White. Multiple actions are suggested; including collation of comprehensive, inclusive data, widening participation and representation initiatives to help re-distribute the power dynamics towards racialised minorities and ensure equality of representation across the dental pipeline, including in senior spaces. We hope this will work towards putting some of the systemic problems that we see in dentistry; such as differential staff and student experiences, inequitable recruitment, promotions and disciplinary proceedings, and colonial dental curricula and research on the institutional agenda. All racial groups including Black and White have been capitalised. We acknowledge the position that capitalising White as done by white supremacists may subtly legitimate such beliefs (Associated Press [AP] News, 2020). Nonetheless, White is a distinct social category that offers social advantage. The capitalisation of White attempts to let White people reflect on that advantage and fully engage in discussions on race and equality (Ewing, 2020). Keywords: Race, Systemic racism, Power, Intersectionality, Workforce underrepresentation, Dentistry

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