That is DR. Gerty to you, FFS.

May 07 2012 Published by under academia

I was reading an article at the Chronicle of Higher Education today, "The PhD now comes with food stamps". I was prepared to be all pissed off at how governments have repeatedly cut funding to higher education, how some schools have responded by hiring more adjunt or non-TT faculty to teach, and how these faculty get totally shafted. What I was not expecting was to discover that the Chronicle  doesn't think that it should refer to people who have a PhD as "Dr."? Instead, the author referred to the woman in the story as "Ms.".

What a fucking way to kick her while she is down. I don't go around demanding that folks refer to me as "Dr.". But if someone is writing about me in a formal kind of way, they should use the damn honorific. I've been informed on twitter that this is just "style" to keep people from being confused. I do not understand how using the appropriate title is confusing. People aren't actually that stupid. And I'm sure that folks who read the Chronicle can keep up with the titles.

DrugMonkey covered this same issue wrt to MSM dropping the title of Dr. Biden back in 2009. Maybe I'm just a little irritated that people can mistake me for a TA or office administrator. Perhaps it is getting emails addressed to "Dear Sir". But when you are addressing me formally, you can call me Dr. Gerty, thankyouverymuch.

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9 responses so far

  • Len says:

    ...Especially since the *whole point* of the article is that she has a PhD!

  • Dr24hours says:

    Remember, physicians and surgeons are called "doctor" out of courtesy only. The word "doctor" means teacher. It implies you have advanced the field of human knowledge.

    Physicians and surgeons go to trade school. A difficult one, yes. But it is a trade school like Law School. There is no reason to call a physician "Dr." except to be polite.

    PhDs, on the other hand, have earned it.

    • Anthea says:

      Yes!! I also remember when I started my PhD that someone reminded me that when I finished that I'd be able to use the term Dr in front of my name as I'd earned it while a medic was only a technician since, as you say, they only went to trade school.

      I found the article otherwise frustrating and depressing especially after I read the comments.

  • sciwo says:

    I'm with you. The NY Times has long maintained that it's a style thing, but you would think a publication aimed at a lot of people with PhDs (and equivalent) would get over their snooty style and recognize the degrees that people have earned.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It's from the AP Stylebook. That's their excuse in the MSM, anyway. But then you come to find out that they make exceptions for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Henry "war criminal" Kissinger in the MSM and it makes you wonder...

  • BeckyPhD says:

    I was thinking the exact same thing while reading that article. In fact, it irritated me so much that I couldn't finish the article.

  • becca says:

    Depends on the context. I don't think we ought to refer to "Dr. Maddow" or, conversely, "Dr. Savage" for political commentator types. Though Dr. Maddow does sound extra sexy *sigh*.
    The Chronicle, for all it's faults, is highly consistent about this one.

    That said, in this particular article, it is confusing. They do not draw attention to the degree adequately, in my opinion. But then, I think part of the problem in that particular context is the fact that the people who are still in grad school and adjuncting are referred to the same way as those who have graduated and are adjuncting.
    Ultimately, neither should be on food stamps, but the former doesn't feel quite as salt-in-the-wound as the later.

    That said, I'm glad to see Prairie State College is in the Chronicle for anything, and gladder to see that it's a happy ending for the woman the article focuses on.

  • Jim Thomerson says:

    I prefer Professor to Doctor, so that I am not mistaken for an MD.

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