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AAE Members Serve on Board of Directors for the American Association of Women Dentists

Compiled by Elisabeth Lisican

“Women changed the face of dentistry for the better in terms of making patients more relaxed and less fearful.” – Dr. Marilyn Woolfolk, Professor Emerita of Dentistry and Assistant Dean Emerita of Student Services, University of Michigan School of Dentistry







In honor of Women’s History Month in March, we caught up with two outstanding female AAE member endodontists. Drs. Maria Maranga and Lauren Aguilar serve on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Women Dentists and we’re grateful for their involvement in both organizations.

Dr. Aguilar serves as the 101st president of AAWD, and Dr. Maranga serves as its director of membership and chapters.

Communiqué: How did you first get involved with AAWD?

Dr. Aguilar: I became involved as a first year dental student. D2-D4 I served on the board for our student chapter at University of Maryland. In 2014-15 I was president and also represented the national board of directors as the student representative.

I took a small hiatus during residency in terms of participation on the board of directors, but returned in 2018 and am so honored to be the 101st president of the national organization.

Dr. Maranga: Many great women came before me, Dr. Maxine Feinberg a periodontist, and our own Dr. Terryl Propper and Dr. Linda Levin propelled me into thinking and speaking up for women. From that vantage point, I joined AAWD.

Communiqué: How can we encourage more women to enter dentistry and endodontics? How does AAWD work towards that goal?

Dr. Aguilar: Encouraging women is multifactorial. Now dental school classes are graduating the same numbers of men as women; however, creating a diverse faculty that represents the growing diversity of the student population is important. I am thankful for my female mentors in dentistry and endodontics and know that they are the minority. Encouraging leadership roles beginning in dentistry and providing space to participate in organized dentistry throughout residency is important in the continuity of women leadership. AAWD aims to connect with women dentists beginning in dental school, through residency, into their careers through retirement and even in legacy. Making connections with other organizations, like AAE, is the way that AAWD stays relevant and lifts up women in organized dentistry. AAWD strives to create a platform for women to pursue leadership roles, mentor one another, network and have discussions about life goals inside and outside of dentistry. Celebrating being women is important and demanding an equitable space is important for encouraging future lady leaders.

Dr. Maranga: Encouraging dentistry as a whole is difficult. However, by volunteering in middle school as a speaker for “career day”, many young folks then have to opportunity to get the exposure needed to look at the Health Sciences as a career goal. The time for traditional women careers is long over yet as of this writing, women still make 18% less than their male counterparts. Our field of endodontics has seen many successful endodontists who are women. But more can always be done to collaborate.

Communiqué: How will you be celebrating Women’s History Month this year?

Dr. Aguilar: I enjoy the historical legacy of AAWD. Looking back on true trailblazers like Drs. Lucy Hobbs Taylor, Eleanor Bushee, June Warren Lee, and Gillette-Hayden are important reminders that women still have this desire to connect. The growing numbers of women’s groups within dentistry is an example of this. The legacy of women in dentistry will always be maintained by AAWD. Now I’m interested to know the history of women in endodontics – this would be a great piece to collaborate on with AAE!

Dr. Maranga: Women’s History Month to me goes on all the time in my daily calendar! Imparting knowledge, confidence and empathy is something that I remain committed to throughout the year. Every resident and young practitioner knows they can always text me to discuss a case and that their education doesn’t end the day they leave my program affiliation. It’s just nice to have one reflective day to sort of grasp the ideas from month to month and talk things through with another person.

Communiqué: Do you have any additional thoughts to share about women in dentistry and endodontics, and what being a woman endodontist means to you?

Dr. Aguilar: Being a woman dentist, a lady leader and an endodontist is a privilege that I am humbled by on a daily basis. The women in my life who have been mentors were not going out of their way to instruct me formally. Mostly they went out of their way to share their personal stories and encouraged me to pursue what made me happy. Dr. Ellen Teverovsky was the first woman endodontist I ever met and worked with – she is my real inspiration for choosing a career in endodontics. During residency, I was lucky to be surrounded by several women endodontists and lifted up by many women faculty members. I felt like I had a very good “net” of women to fall back on whenever I was in doubt. I’d love to be that resource for other women someday, that’s what I hope to do by connecting AAWD and AAE. I hope to be an example that people look up to in the same way that I look up to my mentors. My unsolicited advice to any future woman dentist, future woman endodontist, future woman leader in dentistry is to be authentically yourself and to foster as many connections to other women as possible.

Dr. Maranga: Young women need to be shown in middle school and high school that dentistry affords them the ability to have a great work/life balance. AAWD allows for this specifically by mentorship. Our immediate past President, Dr. Daphne Ferguson-Young, is a great example. She is an educator who has instilled the confidence and power to succeed in dentistry and life.

When I think of the movie The Lion King, the Tree of Life is very special. It represents the birth, lifetime and eventual ceasing of life. But amid its vast canopy of branches and leaves, it is a circle, where someone mentored you, you take charge and give back and then your mentee finds their own mentees to nurture. There is no end to what a mentor can do and I believe that my many of my female endodontic residents will answer the call and be a future endodontic mentor, educator and community servant. And when they do, it always brings a great big smile to me.