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    The future of optometry belongs to women

    The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

    As I “mature,” I’m noticing things I never paid much attention to in the past. For instance, I was once able to go to bed at three and sleep until 10, now I go to bed at 10 and sleep until three.

    I’m also noticing changes at optometric meetings I attend. First, I see lots of young, fresh faces. While I was never the youngest OD in a crowd, now it seems I’m among the oldest. The second thing I’ve noticed is the ever-growing number of female ODs.

    Previously from Dr. Bowling: It's just us

    This shift in our profession’s demographics toward women has been occurring gradually and will continue to grow. In 2014, women made up 38 percent of the profession and 39 percent of AOA members. Now 65 to 75 percent of optometry students are women.1 While male ODs tend to be practice owners (74 percent of owner-ODs are men1), the number of female practice owners likewise will only grow.

    So has our profession’s leadership. In 2011, Dori Carlson became the first female president of the American Optometric Association (AOA), followed by Andrea Thau, the current AOA president. Barbara Horn is the current AOA secretary-treasurer in line to move up to president in a few years.

    Related: Could there be a dress code for ODs?

    Jennifer Smythe was the first female dean of an optometry school as well as the first female president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). Currently six women serve as deans or presidents of optometry schools.

    Ernie Bowling, OD, MS, FAAO
    Dr. Ernie Bowling is Chief Optometric Editor of Optometry Times. He received his Doctor of Optometry and Master of Science in ...


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