This is something that a number of my friends and acquaintances who have studied and worked hard to obtain their PhDs have had to work through…. is it “immodest” to claim the title Dr?
My advice to them has always been “you bloody well earned it. Use it. Stuff everyone who thinks it’s ‘weird’ for women and non-medical personnel to be Doctors.”
But the whole #ImmodestWomen thing blew up on Twitter and reminded everyone that all too many people, men and women with massive internalised misogyny, are not comfortable with women expressing their qualifications and expertise in the form of using their proper title of Dr.
Common tweets to this hashtag were things like airlines refusing to accept that Dr was gender neutral, and refusing to let a woman board a plane booked for Dr So and So, as they were expecting a man. Or the all too frequent “Dr and Mrs X” that never gets changed even when the couple have made it very clear that it is Dr and Mr X over and over again (or even more shocking for traditionalist…. Dr A and Mr B)
I want to do a PhD. And if I complete it, you can be damn sure I will be calling myself Dr. You get that degree, you’ve earned that title. It’s not immodest. It’s just a fact – if you have completed a doctorate, you are a doctor.
When the Toronto Globe & Mail announced that in future only medical doctors would be accorded the title ‘Dr’, it probably wasn’t expecting to cause a stir. But then a historian with a Ph.D objected:
This tweet provoked an avalanche of criticism–directed not to the Globe & Mail‘s new style-rule, but to the arrogance and conceit of Fern Riddell. And as she later told the BBC, she couldn’t help noticing that her critics were mostly men. A lot of men seemed to be outraged by a woman claiming the status of an expert and expecting others to acknowledge her as such. ‘Humility Dr Riddell’, tweeted one. ‘There’s no Ph.D for that’.
But why should women humble themselves when other people are there to do it for them? As I explained in an earlier post, the treatment of women in the workplace is demonstrably affected by a ‘gender…
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