Importance of Women’s History Month

Dr. Sarita Arteaga, associate dean for students at the UConn School of Dental Medicine, shares an essay in honor of Women's History Month.

Sarita Arteaga DMD, MAGD associate professor at UConn School of Dental Medicine in the dental clinic at UConn Health on May 14, 2019. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

Women’s history month is a time where we can highlight the impact that women had in the past, and it is a time to appreciate future contributions as well.  The time we set aside to recognize the accomplishments of women helps us to contemplate and properly elevate those achievements.  Women who courageously pursued respect for their talents and ideas and women who molded their own homes and families are ever-increasing.

Personally, women’s history month has allowed me to see what women before me have done to pave the way for someone like me to thrive and achieve my own pursuits.  As I have learned more about some of these trendsetters, women scientists, and celebrities—with what they have contributed—I  have been encouraged to be a mentor and example to other inspiring women. My goal has been to help them  to attain their goals.  Whether that is among colleagues, peers, students, patients, or other women in my life, I am reminded to pattern my life as someone who will add to the narrative of change.

A month of recognition gives everyone the opportunity to learn about the actions of women that may go unnoticed.  I would hope that it would also allow us to see those efforts that are prepared by our own grandmothers, mothers, sisters and daughters to birth us, care for us and embrace each one of us.  We all need support from one another.

As a professional, I started my education at a time where women comprised less than 30 percent of the graduating class in dental schools. Now, women represent close to 51 percent of dental school students.  Although the increase in the number of women in dental schools is encouraging, I recognize that we as educators still need support not only women but all dental students as they progress through their education to become health care professionals and providers for all patients. This means teaching all students to recognize the past accomplishments of men and especially women. We must demonstrate to our dental students the respect they have earned and need to become compassionate and empathetic healthcare providers