Wednesday, February 04, 2009

That's Doctor Thomas Joseph to you!

On occasion, the scientific blogosphere gets into a tizzy about some subject or another. This week it's about Dr. Biden wanting to be called ... well ... Dr. Biden. Go figure.
"My feeling is if you can't heal the sick, we don't call you doctor," said Bill Walsh, copy desk chief for the Washington Post's A section and the author of two language books.
Heh. O-tay!

At any rate lots, and lots, and lots, and lots, and lots, and lots (and I didn't get/list them all) of Science Bloggers are blogging about it, and most are miffed!

Honestly, at work and especially in my private life ... I don't expect to be called doctor. Heck, when I received my degree and called my family, my own mother didn't even call me Doctor (though the rest of my family tried it out on me at least once), so I was brought down to earth fairly quickly. My mom of course denies that she did it to avoid me having a big head, but rather to the fact that she was road-tripping with my sister at the time and was paying attention to the road (even though my sister was the one driving).

At any rate, I can see what upsets people about the dismissive comments by Bill Walsh ("Mr." left off purposely). I especially understand that it can be upsetting to women, who often have earned their degree while fighting opposition and derogatory/sexist behavior -- much tougher odds than their male counterparts. I think everyone who earns their Ph.D. should be proud of it, and they should use it if they are so inclined. As for me, there are times I'm referred to as Doctor (it's the work culture I'm in actually), but I don't make a point of using it. I do have business cards that have Ph.D. after my name (they're cool) and I have a business card holder inscribed with my full name (and making mention of the Dr. as well) but that comes out only in certain instances ... such as when I attend customer workshops and people are looking to me for my scientific expertise. More often than not, I prefer to be called Tom, and my support scientists were instructed very early to use that, and only that to get my attention. What they call me behind my back is another story, and I probably don't want to know.

So, what does all this boil down to? If you earned it, and you want to use it. Use it! If you don't, don't! It's your call either way. All this typing to say that, eh?

Oh, and if you're one of those people who refers to all female teachers as "Ms." and all male teachers as "Dr." ... stop and think about it. Heck, why don't you ask them what they'd like to be called? There's a shocker for ya!

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