The Wall Street Journal opinion pages have always been garbage, anyway

In case you hadn’t heard already, the WSJ published an appalling bit of nonsense from a Joseph Epstein in which, for some unexplained reason, he decided the important issue of the day is to berate Jill Biden for using the title “Dr.” I know. It’s idiotic. She earned the title, use it. There’s a serious reek of sour grapes here, since Epstein has, at best, a BA. Nothing wrong with that, all of my students graduate with a BA, and I’m proud of them. If you want to see it dissected, with excerpts, here’s the summary for you, complete with summary diagram.

But here’s the deal: among themselves, academics tend not to use fancy titles for each other. We might use them when introducing a colleague to others (but see below), but many of us won’t expect it even with our students, or anyone else for that matter. That goes for all you readers, too — I’d rather you didn’t address me as Dr Myers. That feels weird.

One exception, though: if you try to tell me that you’re not going to call me Dr because I only have a mere biology Ph.D., then for you, I’m going to have to insist on the formality.

Also, these data bring me up short. There’s a tendency for male academics to be more informal with female academics than with their fellow men.

Wow. When women introduce women, they’ll nearly 100% of the time use their title; when men introduce women, it’s down to less than half the time. That’s simple misogyny, diminishing the accomplishments of women, which Epstein has to an extreme degree, but a surprising number of us men also share. I think I tend to get formal when doing formal introductions, so I don’t think I’m guilty of that, but I’ll be more conscious of the problem in the future. I wouldn’t want to Joey Epstein myself, you know. No one wants that.


  1. raven says

    To paraphrase Wonkette, Joseph Epstein has sacrificed his right to be called “Joseph Epstein” or “normal human being”.

    From now on, he should be referred to by his earned titles of “Idiotic misogynistic right wingnut”.

  2. raven says

    To state the obvious, Mr. Epstein, Idiotic Misogynistic Right Wingnut’s real target is the next president Joe Biden.

    Jill Biden’s big crime is being married to the next president.
    It’s guilt by association.

  3. euclide says

    I’d rather you didn’t address me as Dr Myers.

    Can we use Prof. Myers instead ? :)

    Anyway, the use of honorifics seems to me kind of a relic of the old, pre democratic institutions : it’s predominant for the aristocracy, the justice system, the military, the academy and the religioous orders.
    And it ofter come with an obsession for medals and archaic dress codes.

    Maybe we should only use the communist “Comrade” (or the French Revolution “Citizen”)

  4. raven says

    Wikipedia Mr. Idiotic Misogynistic Right Wingnut:

    In 1975, he began serving as the editor of The American Scholar, the magazine of the Phi Beta Kappa society, and wrote for it under the pseudonym “Aristides”.[1]

    During the 1980s and 1990s, Epstein received increasing criticism for commentary widely regarded as anti-feminist, as well as for his “one-sided” management of the editorial page. He compared feminist scholars at various times to “pit bulls” and “dykes on bikes”.[7] In 1991, he was the subject of an op-ed by Joyce Carol Oates calling for his resignation:

    This guy has a long history as a bigot. He hates gays and once called for them to be genocided.
    He also hates feminists and uppity women.
    His last notable accomplishment was to be fired from editor of the journal, The American Scholar.

    He can add “hater” to his list of titles.

  5. says

    Not* related to the family Stein
    Is another Ep, who is a swine.
    He thinks that a Doc
    ‘S just a medical schlock
    Kiddo’s PhD just isn’t fine.

       • As far as I know.

  6. robro says

    WSJ = News Corp = Murdoch. WSJ was always a very conservative propaganda organ for big business. Now it’s part of the Murdoch Made-up Universe. It’s not worth looking at.

  7. rblackadar says

    Does anyone remember Dr. Robert Schuller? Part of his schtick was to always preach in an academic gown. I’d assumed he had a Ph.D. from somewhere, but apparently not! Wikipedia lists his title as “Doctor (honorary)”. Something like Dr. Science, I guess.

    I recall another preacher, this time with a real doctorate, who was invariably referred to as “Dr. King.” Perhaps not by the WSJ editorial page?

  8. PaulBC says

    I’m opposed to anyone saying “Dr.” Sebastian Gorka: He wrote a big term paper for an obscure university, almost certainly with the intent of puffing up his credentials. (Kind of how Dubya bought a pig farm in Texas just in time to have a “ranch” while president, like Reagan or LBJ, and moved out when he didn’t need it.)

    Dr. Jill Biden earned her EdD legitimately from the University of Delaware, which is an accredited research university. End of story. The WSJ piece is about misogyny primarily, and maybe some chauvinism about education degrees, grasping at any straw to attack the President-elect, also I’m sure it does have a lot to do with the author’s own lack of a doctorate.

    I have a PhD in computer science. I’m proud of it and in fact, I still get very excited to see citations of my research 25 years later (but nobody ever asks what happened to me… boo hoo). I used to like having the degree on business cards, and I’ll still do it in contexts where it matters. There’s no benefit to be “Dr.” as a software developer though.

    I think that in academic introductions, pomp is called for, and the highest applicable titles should be used.

  9. says

    My comment xposted from LovejoyFeminism in Patheos Athei — oops, I mean Nonreligious:

    That’s funny, I don’t remember that being a “rule” until just now. I know it’s generally not conventional to call non-MDs or non-dentists “doctor” in normal conversation, but I never heard that stated as a “rule.”

    PS: Suddenly we have a much classier First Lady than Melania Trump, so now the WSJ crowd are absolutely SCRAMBLING to cut her down any way they can. I guess we can take this fake-a$$ “doctor” flap as their admission that they can’t find anything really bad about Dr. Biden.

  10. JoeBuddha says

    I’ll use Prof or Dr when appropriate; however, I’m horribly informal so I’d be likely to forget. On the plus side, I never remember peoples names anyway, so it all balances out. I present them and wait for them to introduce themselves.

  11. PaulBC says

    @13 And Dembski, though he is very wrong about nearly everything (and probably lying too), has what appears to be a legitimate doctorate in mathematics (at least if University of Chicago values its reputation; I was not able to find enough information by googling over 5 minutes).

  12. Ed Peters says

    When I was an undergrad in the late 70’s, no student would even consider not using the Dr. honorific. It was ALWAYS used, for both men and women profs in all disciplines, both out of acknowledgement for what they had accomplished, since we hoped to accomplish like that some day too, and out of proper decorum. I also thought it helped prevented the awkwardness of over-familiarity, on both sides. For me, it was always more comfortable.

  13. DrVanNostrand says

    As I commented over on Mano’s blog, I’ve always found the use of Dr/Prof outside of academic or professional settings to be incredibly pompous and obnoxious. However, the fact that this d-bag chose to make his point with Jill Biden, rather than as a general statement of preference was ridiculously tone deaf. It makes him seem petty (because she’s a political opponent), misogynist, or both.

    (While I do have a PhD, my handle is a completely unrelated reference, which pre-dates my time in grad school. No one calls me Dr.)

  14. sc_262299b298126f9a3cc21fb87cce79da says

    Best title I’ve seen on this story: WSJ Op-Ed Writer With an Honorary Doctorate Mocks Dr. Jill Biden’s Real One, Gets Schooled By Basically The Entire Twitterverse.

  15. blf says

    PaulBC@14, Whilst my information — and personal experience there — is dated, the undergraduate Mathematics program at UChicago is top-notch. I presume that also applies to the graduate program; and from memory, several of my Mathematics professors (some of whom won the Fields Prize) got their PhD’s there.

  16. says

    No one had a problem with naming Dr. Martin Luther King. No one had a problem with naming Dr. Henry Kissinger. Neither delivered a baby to my knowledge. The WSJ should do better at keeping their editorial writers from being such jackasses.

  17. KG says


    Well it has its uses. Impresses police officers. And if you want to rubberneck at an accident, you can always say “Let me through, I’m a doctor!”

    I’ll admit I once got righteously slapped down for applying the “Doctor” snobbery in the opposite direction. In the UK, most medics don’t actually have a doctoral degree (the standard taught medical degree is a Bachelor’s degree, usually abbreviated something like MB ChB; an MD is a postgraduate research degree, like a PhD). So for medics with an MB ChB or similar, “Doctor” is a courtesy title. In some conversational context I don’t recall, I made this point, adding: “I worked for the title”. A medical doctor present said, rightly enough*: “So did I!”.

    *A taught medical degree in the UK usually takes 7 years. And then you have more years working incredibly long and unsocial hours in a series of 6-month posts in various specialties before you’re allowed to get a permanent post.

  18. KG says

    In Northern Ireland, we used to have “Rev.Dr. Ian Paisley”, whose “doctorate” was from Bob Jones University, and no-one ever saw evidence he’d done anything to earn it, but he always insisted on using it. And in South Africa, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the leader of Inkatha, always referred to Nelson Mandela as “Dr. Mandela” – both Buthelezi and Mandela had been awarded honorary doctorates, and Buthelezi was keen to use the title, but AFAIK Mandela never played along by returning the dubious compliment.

  19. says

    Aaaaaand we’re back at another round of the fucked up PhD discourse.
    Several things are true at the same time: Women get disrespected. While men are addressed by their titles and last names, women get called by their first names. An accomplished woman like Jill Biden is called “kiddo” and lectured by a dude without even a master’s. And yeah, women and non binary people like to use their title to get out of the Mr.Mrs.Ms. dilemma.
    And still, and still, a “Dr.” is the noble title of the bourgeoisie. A “Dr.” is absolutely justified within the field they work in as it is a qualification, but beyond it it’s just a good old tool to keep the plebs in their place.
    I know, y’all worked hard for your PhDs, but so did other people for their job qualifications or, hear me out, simply by working to make a living. Sorry, but the master’s tools won’t take down the master’s house. And if you insist on being called “Dr”, will insist on being called “Assessorin des Lehramtes” because that’s actually a title I’m allowed to use.

  20. cartomancer says

    I find it somewhat embarrassing when people refer to me as “doctor”. Sadly I teach at a private school (11-18yrs) these days, where the protocol is to use title and surname and the management are very keen on promoting that they have staff with doctoral degrees. Mind you, it is an all girls’ school, and there is an element of promoting aspiration and respect for putting in the work to achieve academically there. In the two and a bit years I’ve taught there I’ve lost track of the number of girls who’ve said they want to get a doctorate so they don’t have to engage with the misogynistic mrs/miss minefield.

    On the other hand, I do teach Latin. Which is where “doctor” comes from, and in that language just means “teacher”, so it’s subject-appropriate. Though more old-fashioned Latin teachers tend to use “magister / magistra”, which is too highfalutin by far.

    Personally I much prefer using my first name – even “mr” sounds like we’re talking about my father. Still, it’s better than “sir”, which I find ridiculous to a much greater degree since I haven’t been knighted either. When people call me “sir” I tend to respond in quite acerbic fashion, and let them know that if they’re going for fawning formality they might as well go the whole hog and call me “your majesty”, since I don’t have formal claim to that title either.

    Strangely enough my old university varies as to whether they call me “mr” or “dr” on the alumnus letters I get occasionally. I’m “mr” when it’s a general call and “dr” when they’re begging for donations.

  21. says

    It’s amazing, the level of disjunct between the actual WSJ reporters and the conservative doctrinaire hacks on the editorial board. Mainline real news WSJ reporting is excellent. Thanatos scandal; blown open by WSJ. Misogynist tripe op-eds; WSJ editorials.

  22. dorght says

    I’m slowly coming around to it being ok for a PhD to use the title Dr everywhere outside of a medical setting. It’s a major achievement, often eclipsing the work an MD puts in to get there title. BUT, I reserve the right to label the person a pretentious git if they insist on Dr being used after an introduction or outside their area of research.
    To avoid confusion in the medical setting it would be clearer if MD / DOs always used those initials. Don’t want a PhD in accounting strolling into the ER, introducing themselves as Dr., and evaluating my assets and credit score to prescribe the best possible treatment they can profitably administer. Medical settings are positively brimming with PhDs now. Almost have to have a PhD to be a physical therapist and many other specialties.

  23. PaulBC says

    When I was a grad student, and had a course to teach way back, I started getting sample textbooks addressed to “Professor…” I thought that was funny. It makes sense that there is no cost to puffing up a student, but it’s risky to insult a full professor. It was one thing that persuaded me of the inherent silliness of the whole thing.

    Still, that’s coming from a place where I don’t need a title for any professional purpose. I am happy to say “Dr. Jill Biden” and I find it shocking that anyone would question it.

  24. says

    This reminds me of problems in academic political science.

    Particularly at “not top tier” schools, there’s a significant proportion of political science faculty — including at least three endowed chairs at “state flagship” universities — who are lawyers, not PhDs in polisci. When dealing with other faculty, and especially with low-level university administrators, these lawyers frequently find it necessary to refer to themselves as “Dr.” (The American law degree is Juris Doctor, and includes as much coursework as a PhD, a dissertation-equivalent that isn’t “original” in the same sense but then legal research actually denigrates “original,” but omits language competency.) Otherwise, they don’t get treated as “real” faculty. This is particularly a problem at community/junior colleges, and with adjunct faculty and women; I recall one instance at a smaller college in which “the” PoliSci guy who taught American Constitutional Law and American Civil Rights to undergrads went on sabbatical, they brought in a female lawyer who actually litigated in those areas to teach the class, and Things Got Interesting until she started signing everything “Dr.”

  25. DrVanNostrand says

    @Giliell #22

    Completely agree on all points.

    @Paul BC #26

    I very much do have a problem with “Dr. Jill Biden”. Just as I refer to Mano Singham, PZ Myers, and all of my PhD colleagues without the title Dr., I am not inclined to use it for her. What I would never do is write an op-ed article singling her out for the reasons stated in my previous comment. However, I would absolutely support anyone writing an op-ed opposing the practice in a general sense.

  26. garnetstar says

    I don’t use a title in my personal life, as it never comes up. I expect, however, to be introduced by it when I’m the invited speaker, as all speakers should.

    But, I have found a need for titles that Dr. Jill might also have: because I’m female, undergrads expect me to be a mommy or at least a BFF. It’s very pronounced, and of course they never expect emotional comforting and always-on love and attention from the male professors.

    So, when I do something that isn’t mommying or what friend would do (like, say, give them a grade), they really are emotionally hurt and betrayed, and long emotional confrontations ensue. “I thought you were my friend!”, etc. They don’t actually say “You’re a mean Mommy!”, but that’s the gist.

    To try to stave that off, I have to make undergrads address me with a title: I require that they call me “Professor” (they don’t even need to say my name). It emphasizes a little more that this is a professional, not a parental, relationship, and that helps, a little. Perhaps Dr. Jill finds that necessary as well, for similar reasons.

    The male professors are always so suprised and unbelieving when I tell them the need for this. They don’t think it’s real.
    The grad students don’t have the Mommy problem (or shouldn’t, at least), so they call me by my first name.

  27. PaulBC says

    DrVanNostrand@28 You’re comparing apples to oranges. PZ (I won’t speak about the others) doesn’t really need the honorific attached. We know he’s a professor. He is coming from a position of privilege and he can treat the title as optional because it doesn’t matter that much. To add a point I just made to a FB friend, as a software engineer I look like an asshole if I insist on “Dr.” The PhD itself is kind of mixed blessing, suggesting to some that I am impractical, so there’s a judgment call. I’m still entitled to use it.

    But how in fuck’s name can you “have a problem” with somebody using a title that is absolutely implicit in their doctoral degree? Dr. Jill Biden is entitled to use it and to insist on it. “Doctor” doesn’t even mean medical practitioner. It comes from “teacher” in Latin. It has been extended to many different things (usage counts) and applying it in this instance is commonplace. It’s the capital D in EdD.

  28. PaulBC says

    garnetstar@30 I completely agree. One of the teachers at my kids’ middle school went by doctor. It was a PhD and not in the subject she taught, but so what? It’s up to her, and she’s entitled to use it.

    I don’t see how you can criticize anyone for simply following a convention (presumably judging it to their advantage to do so) and not tying one hand behind their backs in a contest that is not necessarily stacked in their favor.

  29. PaulBC says


    The grad students don’t have the Mommy problem (or shouldn’t, at least), so they call me by my first name.

    Well, on second thought, I don’t completely agree. I never felt comfortable being too familiar with professors. I guess after being a grad student long enough that you feel like part of your department, things can change. However, I’m just generally a big fan of professional distance.

    Outside academia, I do refer to colleagues by first name, because it’s the convention. In a smaller corporate setting, if someone is a known manager or executive, their first name carries its own weight. I worry when it slips into too much familiarity though. I suppose it’s a judgment call like many other things.

  30. DrVanNostrand says

    PaulBC @31

    I object to it on the same terms that I object to using it outside of relevant academic/professional contexts to refer to you, me, PZ, Mano, etc… It’s pompous assholery.

  31. Erp says

    @28 DrVanNostrand

    I think the question is what to use in formal introductions such as by a person introducing a speaker or in correspondence. If one chooses to use a title, one uses ‘Dr.’ if the person has an actual (as opposed to honorary) degree in an academic context (or always if MD). The question is whether one can or should use ‘Dr.’ in non academic contexts if one is not a medical doctor or dentist or something similar or should revert back to Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms (and the custom has varied).
    This also touches heavily on how women have been introduced historically. Do a newspaper scan of the first half of the 1900s and married women were almost always referred to by their husband’s name (Mrs. Joe Biden). To use Mrs. Jill Biden would have indicated she was divorced (or possibly widowed but now open to remarriage). Never married women were Miss Jill Biden (or even just Miss Biden if the eldest daughter). I think a very formal reference to the First Lady of the US would have been something like “The First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Joe Biden” (and I did find one google search result for “First Lady Mrs. William Clinton” so that use isn’t completely dead).
    Various etiquette pages (not updated yet for the new situation) state that first ladies should be addressed as “Mrs. Lastname” in formal correspondence; they are not addressed as “First Lady Lastname”; they also state that holders of EdD who are Professors can be addressed as “Dr”. In other words “Dr. Jill Biden” in formal correspondence is completely fine.

  32. blf says

    Is anyone else finding it hilarious the commentator objecting to Dr Biden insisting on the “Dr” has a handle which starts with Dr? And, unlike Dr Biden, we don’t know if this commentator earned it or whatever. As this Dr… commentator said (referring to using “Dr” outside of certain limited contexts), “It’s pompous assholery.”

  33. rpjohnston says

    Looking at the credits on the bar graphs, I noticed they’re all cited as Doctors…but then there’s a Ms. Ryan Melkian. Is she not a doctor or are there levels of irony going on there?

  34. PaulBC says

    I’m not sure if anyone brought up this point of usage, but if you say someone “is a doctor” that almost always means medical doctor, though I suppose it could mean osteopath. Anyway, it’s someone who treats medical conditions. You usually wouldn’t call a dentist “a doctor.” They’re dentists, with Dr. in front and DDS after their names, but not “doctors.”

    The term “professor” is different, because it’s a title and a description. Some professors go by “Prof.” and some go by “Dr.” but you call them professors, not doctors.

    (Above is intended as descriptive, not prescriptive.)

  35. says

    A couple of random side points:

    In the early 1990s, the Department of State Office of Protocol vehemently insisted that all protocol functions refer to the “highest, or if not highest stated preferred, title of each individual at an event, whether or not that individual is a spouse or significant other.” So some “etiquette” folks caught up a long time ago. Personal preferences can create interesting circumstances, though; during the second Bush administration, some of my former colleagues who were still at State noted the in-house preference for “Chairman [Powell]” instead of “Mr. Secretary” when there were no cameras operating.

    If I recall correctly, Schuller (mentioned @9) had a ThD from somewhere in Texas. He was thus entitled to be called “Dr.” (Just not “rational.”)

  36. says

    Just to provide some context – at the time Epstein was an undergraduate, faculty at the University of Chicago were invariably addressed and referred to as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” or “Miss” (there was no “Ms.” in those days), never as “Professor” or “Dr.” – unless they were an M.D., in which case the title “Dr.” would be used. That custom went back to 1892, the year that Chicago opened, and had been proposed by the university’s first President to avoid confusion: should you address an Instructor or Assistant Professor as “Professor”? Should you refer to a faculty member as “Dr.” when they might not have a doctorate? (That was quite common among humanities faculty, especially early on. And even later – for example the prominent anthropologist/sociologist W. Lloyd Warner had only an A.B.; he was on the faculty when Epstein was an undergraduate). My impression is that at some time in the last few decades that custom was dropped.
    Anyway, this might explain a predisposition of Epstein towards only using “Dr.” for M.D.s, though it is silly of him to expect the world to accommodate what he feels most comfortable with.
    Myers is quite correct to point out that there is nothing wrong with a B.A. The most brilliant biologist I ever met, Evelyn Hutchinson, didn’t have a Ph.D. (Steven Jay Gould called Hutchinson “the greatest living ecologist”). Freeman Dyson never had a Ph.D. There are many other examples.
    Finally, as perhaps the only one of the commenters in this thread to have encountered Epstein in person, I may be entitled to add that yes, he is a horse’s ass.

  37. Ridana says

    39) @rpjohnston: I would assume that Ms. Ryan Melkian is not a doctor. I only have a BS, but I’m still a co-author on more than a dozen papers. The listing itself seemed to be making a point rather than being a citation, since (in my experience) authors are not usually named as “Dr. J.B. Doe” but as “J.B. Doe, MD” or “Doe, JB, PhD,” etc., depending on the journal’s preferred format.

    The author I found puzzling was “Dr. Suneela Vegunta et al.” Had they been the last author listed, I’d assume other authors were not listed, but seeing that in the middle of the author list made me wonder if there were more than one Drs. Vegunta or what. I’ve never noticed a citation like that before.

  38. seachange says

    I’m a big fan of introducing people by the name that they want to be called. But I’m likely to make the mistake here with PZ, because I’m both bad at memory and at telling who is a friend. Titles are useful tools of distance that are at least respectful on the face of it.

    Adressing someone female by their title even if they don’t want you to is a useful feminist power move, unfortunately. In any mixed gender group there’s going to be someone who will not address a female-gendered person correctly. If I start out being super-formal it sounds less prissy or arrogant in such a way that the woman gets blamed instead of me being blamed when I reference her next in the third person and look at the goofus pointedly while doing it. Then, if it blows up I can refer to male-identified people more familiarly and then feign innocence if it blows up again.

    Because of course, they are blaming somebody for their mistake since they think they’re perfect and it’s really a “mistake” and not a mistake and Somebody Must Be Blamed For This.

  39. bad Jim says

    When I attended Berkeley, 1968-1972, different departments had different customs. The honorific was perhaps more common in the humanities; its use was apparently deprecated in the mathematics department.

    I joined the AAAS just before the March for Science in 2017, and my application only claimed a BA; nevertheless, I have received communications from them addressing me as “Dr.”

    Today I received a new Medicare card, and the accompanying letter indicated that I had changed my name. Puzzled, I compared the new card to the old, and the only difference was that the new card correctly included the Jr. which is on my birth certificate as well as my driver’s license, passport and credit cards, not to mention my patents, two of which were shared with my father.

  40. MadHatter says

    There are only two reasons that I ever append Dr to my name: when it is necessary professionally to ensure that peers recognize that I have the expertise (and I am female in what has been a male-dominated sphere of research), and when my only other options are “Miss/Mrs”. It is no one’s business whether I am married or not so if the bank won’t allow me to use “Ms” then they can address me as “Dr”.

    That said, in a news article where a male PhD would be referred to as “Dr” you better well use my title too. And too often women are referred to as “ms/miss” or by first name in the same context.

    I think it’s a bit pretentious to use “Dr” elsewise, but then again in Jill Biden’s shoes I might do it to avoid being viewed as “only” the First Lady. Traditionally a very weird position to be in.

  41. says


    But, I have found a need for titles that Dr. Jill might also have: because I’m female, undergrads expect me to be a mommy or at least a BFF. It’s very pronounced, and of course they never expect emotional comforting and always-on love and attention from the male professors.

    See, that’s exactly what I was talking about. You aren’t subverting hierarchies or gendered expectations. you simply found a way to escape those gendered expectations yourself and dump the expectation on some other woman without a PhD. Hey, I’m not even particularly angry with women choosing to profit from one fucked up system to escape another one, but please don’t call it progress or feminism or anything.

  42. PaulBC says


    Hey, I’m not even particularly angry with women choosing to profit from one fucked up system to escape another one, but please don’t call it progress or feminism or anything.

    I agree. As I said above, nobody should be expected to fight with one hand behind their back. If Dr. Jill Biden benefits from the title, she should use it. Unilateral disarmament is for suckers (and sadly, many are suckered into it).

  43. stroppy says

    “Jill Biden is not a doctor, no,” Carlson said on his nightly program. “Maybe in the same sense Dr. Pepper is.”
    — Tucker Carlson

    Manners , not necessarily a bad thing.

    Emily Post

    Socially as well as professionally, medical doctors, dentists, and other professionals are addressed by, and introduced with, their titles. People who have earned a Ph.D. or any other academic, nonmedical doctoral degree have the choice of whether to use “Dr.” both professionally and socially. If, when meeting people with doctorates, you’re unsure how to address them, “Dr.” is always correct. If they’d rather the title be dropped, they will let you know.

    It’s more common for women to use the title “Doctor” socially as well as professionally than in the past. When a married woman uses the title “Dr.” (either medical or academic) socially, addressing social correspondence to the couple is a little trickier. If her husband is not a doctor, address letters to Dr. Sonia and Mr. Robert Harris. Her name comes first because her professional title “outranks” his social title. If her husband is also a doctor, the address is either The Drs. (Doctors) Harris or Drs. Sonia and Robert Harris (the order of the names doesn’t matter).

    Seems reasonable. The trouble you go to in order to earn a doctorate and what you should come away with deserves some acknowledgement– so long as you’re not being a jerk about it, or making a big show of not making a big show about it.

    I have no manners, so I’ll just say fuck you Tucker Carson, you lazy, no talent, evil little hack.

  44. PaulBC says

    F**ker Carlson isn’t anything, just a windbag. What an impressive resume he has! (wikipedia):

    Carlson was briefly enrolled at Collège du Léman, a boarding school in Switzerland, but says he was “kicked out”.[27] He attained his secondary education at St. George’s School, a boarding school in Middletown, Rhode Island. He then went to Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he graduated in 1991 with a BA in history.[16] After college, Carlson tried to join the Central Intelligence Agency, but his application was denied, after which he decided to pursue a career in journalism with the encouragement of his father.[28][16]

    Anyone with an EdD is entitled to put Dr. in front of their name. That’s it. It’s really not complicated.

  45. garnetstar says

    @49, no, I’m not dumping any gendered expectations on other women who don’t have PhD’s: anyone who teaches a college class can be, and is, called Professor, whatever their degree is, which is no undergrad’s business anyway. I don’t ask anyone to call me Dr., so I don’t see where you’re getting that I’m pushing this off onto non-PhD women. And, as I said, the grad students, and everyone else, just use my first name.

    And no, I don’t think that’s progress or feminism, nor did I say so: it’s a survival mechanism unfortunately forced on me by students’ gendered expectations. As I said, the department refuses to believe that this situation exists, so they do nothing to try to address or correct the students’ biases. So, for survival, I have to do what I can.

    Perhaps Dr. Jill is using a title for a similar reason. Men may diss that because they don’t believe that students have gendered expectations.

  46. garnetstar says

    @49, in fact, when I talk to undergrads they often refer to other women teachers as Professor, including women whose job title is not professor. I have no idea what those womens teachers’ degrees are, PhD or not, ecause I don’t care and it’s none of my business. I have never asked anyone what their degrees are.

    Nor have I asked any of the women who teach here whether they require the use of that title by the undergrads, or if they experience what I do. They might well be, and so resort to that solution.

    “Feminism” would be pointing out to the overhwelmingly-male department that undergrads have these biases and asking the department to do something about it. “Progress” would be enough men in the department believing me and doing something. I’ve already done the first, multiple times, therefore I do quality for “feminism”, but there really is no hope of the second happening, nor do I have any superpower that could make them do it.

  47. PaulBC says

    I support practices that help level an unlevel playing field and I’m against those that keep it unlevel in practice, even if there is some theoretical argument in support.

    The reason the “old boys network” got that name is because the “old boys” don’t need to concern themselves with titles and qualifications. They’re just boys together in the clubhouse, whether it’s academia, business, government. They help each other out… and help themselves to power. The ones outside the clubhouse aren’t even on their radar. A prominent scientist might very well say “Ha ha, nobody calls me Dr. I’m just Bob [or whatever]. You don’t need titles, just work that merits respect.” And he (almost always he) may very well believe it himself.

    But for anyone outside the clubhouse, and especially for a woman or minority, that is the most suicidal advice you could possibly take if you value your career. You need to be a prick about credentials and work, and make sure nobody goes away without being damn sure about the respect that you’ve earned. Insisting on a title like “Dr.” may be effective or may backfire depending on context, but you have a right to use it. And for that matter, not just professionally, but like, when being stopped for traffic ticket, when calling up about a mistake in your drycleaning bill or whatever the hell you want. Because the old boys are getting that respect anyway. They just don’t have to work as hard for it.

    It’d be nice if life actually matched nominal expectations. I mean, it took me a long time to deal with the fact that it doesn’t (but being white and male I have mostly sailed along anyway). It’s actually a contest. You can play fair up to a point, but not to the point of unilateral disarmament, not when you are giving away what others are taking freely, almost without knowing it. I think Dr. Jill Biden is exactly right when it comes to using her title.