Five questions, five answers from women who make a difference
Who do you credit as your mentor? My father, Dr. A. R. Williams, was an excellent dentist in Colorado. I worked and watched in his office in emergencies and during summers from age 12 on. He had only four women in his graduating class of 1918, and I met every one of them at dental meetings. Two of them became presidents of AAWD - Dr. E. Pearl Bishop (1936) and Dr. Josephine M. Irey (1951 and 1955).
What do you feel is your greatest strength and worst weakness? My strength is good health, which has made it possible to dedicate myself to a meaningful contribution through dentistry. My weakness is accidents outside the home and office, which cause injuries that prevent me from being my most productive.
If you were to create a book liner jacket for yourself, what would you write? As a young college woman, Jane found her direction in life to be dentistry. Imagine her surprise when she entered dental school as the only woman in an entire class of men, almost all veterans of WWII on the G.I. Bill. But she wanted it all - dentistry, marriage, and family. How much fulfillment she found is this story!
What three words describe you? My husband says “strong-willed and compassionate,” and I say “curious traveler.” I know I really should have another word in there!
What is your message to future women dentists? “To your own self be true.” Keep your high values. Be the best person and dentist you can be. Let ethics be an important word in your career. “Don’t pull up the ladder behind you” was a message I heard at one AAWD meeting. As a successful woman, help other women climb that ladder, as you have been assisted. Many women from the past have made your present position possible.
Dr. Jane Selbe