05 March 2020

Celebrating leading women on IWD 2020 - Dr Mihiri Silva

In the lead up to International Women's Day (IWD) on Sunday 8 March, we're profiling leading ADAVB and eviDent women. We spoke with committee and working group member, Dr Mihiri Silva.

The IWD theme is #Eachforequal and it’s about each one of us helping creating a gender equal world. How do you do this and how can others?

I love this theme because it highlights that creating an equal world needs all of us to pitch in and that everyone’s contribution is equally important. Personally, it’s about reaching out, connecting and championing others’ contributions. At The University of Melbourne I am lucky to be working with the future leaders of our profession and I try my best to empower our students to tackle inequity, and that includes creating a gender equal world.

Describe some of the inspiring women in your life that have made an impact on you.

From the outset I have been surrounded by strong women. My grandmother, who passed away in 2014, was a major influence in my early years. But ultimately without doubt, it is my mother who has been the biggest influence. She shows me that you can have a successful career and family and that it takes hard work. My professional life has really benefited from the input of many amazing women, especially my friend, mentor and PhD supervisor Nicky Kilpatrick.

How has the dentistry workforce changed since you studied and throughout your career?

I’ve never felt like a minority in dentistry – when I studied it was an undergraduate course and our class was two thirds women. However, as my career has progressed and my priorities have changed I have started to recognise that gender inequity remains a problem for our profession, especially in leadership positions. That said, I really feel like there is a lot of positivity and increasing recognition that the dental workforce has changed and that it’s important that gender equity occurs at all levels of the workforce. It won’t be easy but if we can achieve this, I have no doubt that our profession and the community will reap the rewards.

Describe some of the highlights of your role on ADAVB committees and other leadership roles.

I have been involved with ADAVB committees from my student days and I have really enjoyed that feeling of being part of the profession. I served many years on the recent graduates committee and it was really enjoyable to work with my peers to build better systems to support the transition from student to dentist. More recently I have chaired the ADA’s working group on ankyloglossia and I am really proud of the important work the group has done on this issue.

What do you say to women considering taking the step into leadership?

Sometimes I think women can be put off by the “L” word! But leadership happens in small increments so really, we can lead at every stage. My advice is to reach out and connect with others, build relationships and networks. The ADAVB is a great place to start! 


Thinking about taking the next step? Enter our Facebook competition to attend the Brilliant Women Global event at Kooyong Tennis Club with ADAVB President Dr Gitika Sanghvi on IWD - Sunday 8 March, 11.30am. We now have FOUR tickets to give away! Be inspired by others' journeys and talk all things women and leadership with your ADAVB President. Entry is open to current ADAVB dentistry student members, including ADC candidates, and graduate members (up to ten years). Terms and conditions apply.

Further information about career development and leadership

ADAVB Groups - attend your local network meeting

Health Sector Leadership Program - applications open soon

Mentoring - applications close 12 March 2020

Committees - apply today!

Council - nominations open April 2020