Women in DSO

Elisa Llodra Featured News

By Carrie Mauterer, D.D.S., CDA Editor
From the Spring 2023 Journal of the Colorado Dental Association

Relaxation, connection and inspiration were abundant during a recent conference I attended named Women in DSO (or WinDSO for short). As the clinical director of my DSO, I wanted to meet other women who are holding powerful roles and also hear about the latest trends of the industry. The WinDSO conference is not exclusively for women, it is for anyone who supports the idea of increasing the number of women who hold leadership positions in the dental industry.

This was the second year of the conference and they had over 800 attendees with 75 sponsor groups. This was about twice the size of last year’s inaugural conference. From the sounds of it, the conference next year (March 6-8, 2024) is going to be huge.

This topic is close to my heart and especially important in the month trailing Women’s History Month. I am ecstatic that the Colorado Dental Association is welcoming our very first female Executive Director and CEO Molly Pereira. There is no one on this planet who can do a better job of directing our association than Molly and I am so grateful to the CDA search committee for their thorough vetting and careful consideration of all the candidates who qualified for the position.

At the WinDSO, the presentations consisted of panel discussions with a wide range of industry professionals. Topics like “Leading with a growth mindset,” “Who’s in your corner when you’re not there,” “Trends Impacting Dental Economics,” and “Modern toolkit for clinical leaders” were presented during the two-day conference.

Most of the “Leading with a growth mindset” panel consisted of storytelling by the panelists. The leaders on the stage talked about their rise to the next level of leadership throughout their careers. It was common to hear that one of the main differences between men and women when they consider a promotion or new position is that women feel they must know and excel at all the job descriptions and men tend to see one or two things they know how to do and feel they can figure out the rest as they go. Because of this large difference between the mindsets of men and women, we have a very small percentage of C-Suite positions held by women. Even more concerning is that for every C-Suite position a woman takes, there are two women leaving the C-Suite level. No one knows for sure why this is, however, work/life balance was brought up many times during the discussions. Brooke Young, COO for Espire Dental, had some great advice for women who are trying to lead in their work as well as at home. She doesn’t approach the healthy splitting of work and home life as a balance, but rather a blend. I related to her approach, and I feel that I don’t keep certain hours dedicated only to work or home. In my world, it can’t be one or the other. Work and home co-exist. I allow myself the grace of a blend of hours where I have time to focus on the different daily tasks of both my work and home life whenever they come up. It works for me. It works for my family as well.

The most impactful aspect of this conference for me was the networking. Each time I joined a table of women I didn’t know; I received a warm welcome and lots of advice and help. Many companies were present who directly competed against each other in the real world, but I didn’t feel competition or games at play. I only felt warmth, compassion and connection from the women who truly wanted to see other women succeed. I loved the environment and am committed to maintaining the same supportive, collegial environment at the CDA to help any and all of our members succeed in any career paths they choose. I am grateful for the opportunity to explore all areas of professional development that dentistry has to offer, and I’m excited to share that information with any of our members who are curious about my personal journey and experiences.