Will there be a doctor in the White House? Absolutely

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Hello, Broadsheet readers! Meghan Markle makes her debut as a startup investor, Argentina decides to legalize abortion, and Dr Jill Biden has definitely earned her title. Go get your Monday.

– There’s a doctor in the house. If you’ve spent this weekend relaxing, spending time with friends and family, or reading for fun, let me tell you about some hateful readings from your final days. The topic is one that may seem silly from the start – and it’s not improving.

Should Dr. Jill Biden, the first lady-elect of the United States, call herself a “doctor”? Writer Joseph Epstein managed to devote 800 words to this question in the the Wall Street newspaperopinion pages from.

Any belief that this would be a good faith argument evaporated in the first sentence of the article, where Epstein referred to the 69-year-old elected first lady as a “kid.” His title of “Dr”, he asserts, “sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a little funny.”

Epstein achieved something rare with this coin. Suddenly, he offended doctors in the humanities and social sciences (he maintains that diplomas have lost their prestige); doctors (for some reason he quotes a “wise man” who said “no one should be called ‘Dr’ unless they have given birth to a child”); his former employer, Northwestern University, who issued a statement distance oneself from him; and, of course, women.

Would a writer dare to declare in a national newspaper that a man who won the title of “Dr.” after years of study, should we “abandon the doc?”

Biden received his doctorate – an Ed.D. or a Doctor of Education – from the University of Delaware in 2007. Epstein is not only the latest in a long line to question the professional achievements of women, but specifically belittles Biden’s research. He calls the title of his thesis, “Student Retention at Community Colleges: Meeting Student Needs”, “without a promise.” This analysis – to be generous with the word – would likely be news to the community college students Biden taught for over 20 years, including during her time as Second Lady, and to those who will be in her classes for more than 20 years. what continues to teach after moving to the White House. (The Merriam-Webster dictionary had another clapback suitable for this dig: he added that the word “doctor” comes from the Latin word for “teacher”.)

Epstein, who admits to not being a doctor of any kind, laments that he is often called “Dr” by mistake – an ordeal I doubt many women have faced. A 2017 study of speaker presentations at the Grandes Ronds de Médecine Internne, for example, found that men presented their professional titles to women only 49% of the time, compared to 72% of the time for male speakers with similar qualifications.

the WSJ the writer devotes part of his editorial to the chronicle of a supposed loss of “prestige” for the doctorate. outside of science in recent decades, with “relaxed” standards compared to mid-century Greek or Latin tests and oral exams that he says left candidates withering away. It was, of course, a time when few women could attend the universities where these degrees were awarded. So, by Epstein’s standards, it seems that hardly any female expert in the humanities or social sciences should ask to be approached by the title she earned, as she did after the standards changed in Higher Education.

There are some good arguments against using the title “Dr.”. Style AP – and FortuneThe style of – usually does not use a fee, but rather describes a person by their specific expertise, if applicable. Some Argue that an over-reliance on or celebration of graduate degrees may make these credentials necessary for students who are increasingly taking on debt to obtain them.

But as to whether Dr. Jill Biden, who earned a doctorate after years of study, has the right to be called by the title? Of course the answer is yes. The elected First Lady weighed in on the debate on Sunday evening: “Together, we will build a world where the achievements of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished.” she wrote on twitter.

Epstein is an essayist known for his “mindSo maybe it was meant to be a humorous play. But when so many women are confronted with their coworkers and bosses questioning their professional expertise every day – whether they have a fancy title or not – the joke just doesn’t arise. You can read the editorial, if necessary, in the pages of WSJ. (We decided not to give it any further promotion by linking to this one.) Or better yet – read Dr. Biden’s thesis here.

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe



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