An op-ed in a US newspaper that urged incoming First Lady Jill Biden to drop the ‘Dr’ title irked people and resulted in a flurry of responses that caused #MyTitleIsDr to trend on Twitter.
Joseph Epstein in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) called the next US First Lady “kiddo” and asked if she could drop the title from her name.
“Madame First Lady — Mrs. Biden — Jill — kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter,” Epstein wrote at the start of his column.
“Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.'” he wrote.
The column prompted reactions from Biden’s team, and others like former first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.
“For eight years, I saw Dr Jill Biden do what a lot of professional women do — successfully manage more than one responsibility at a time, from her teaching duties to her official obligations in the White House to her roles as a mother, wife, and friend,” Michelle wrote on Instagram.
Former first lady and presidential candidate Clinton tweeted, “Her name is Dr Jill Biden. Get used to it.”
Her name is Dr. Jill Biden. Get used to it.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) December 13, 2020
Dr. Biden earned her degrees through hard work and pure grit. She is an inspiration to me, to her students, and to Americans across this country. This story would never have been written about a man. pic.twitter.com/mverJiOsxC
— Doug Emhoff (@DouglasEmhoff) December 12, 2020
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) December 13, 2020
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) December 12, 2020
The Twitter handles of dictionaries also joined the debate by explaining the meaning of the word ‘doctor’.
The word ‘doctor’ comes from the Latin word for “teacher.” https://t.co/wUihrn6Hyq
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) December 12, 2020
1. a person licensed to practice medicine, as a physician, surgeon, dentist, or veterinarian.
2. a person who has been awarded a doctorate, such as a Ph.D. or Ed.D.https://t.co/XkP7OpeKtx
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) December 12, 2020
Researchers and physicians from across the world tweeted about how difficult it is to get a PhD. Many women with PhDs added “Dr.” to their Twitter display names in solidarity. Many added hashtags #MyTitleIsDr and #DrJillBiden to talk about their experiences.
Dr. Jill Biden earned a doctorate in education and has every right to be called doctor. In fact, anyone with a PhD, DDS, MD, DO, or Ed.D has the right to be called doctor. Ben Shapiro never earned any of those degrees. He may have gone to Harvard Law, but his only title is Clown.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) December 15, 2020
As a child therapist, I often introduce myself as “Ms. Emily” to young children. Today, I reconsidered. Thanks to the @WSJ for reminding me that children deserve to view mental & physical health equally. Medicine can heal, but so can a therapeutic relationship. #mytitleisdr #apa https://t.co/RmDfOCKjyG
— Dr. Emily W. King (@emilywkingphd) December 15, 2020
#MyTitleIsDr Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). First generation Salvadoran woman with a doctorate. Took 4 years in undergrad, 5 years in grad school, & a dissertation to earn this degree. I have always felt like an imposter and that I didn’t belong in these circles, but I earned it.
— Esther GranadosRamos (@esthgran) December 15, 2020
No one can take what we earned away from us- not sexism, not misogyny, not #WSJ editorials by little men who understand even less. My job depends on trust, and I worked very hard for a very long time to make it easier for my patients to do that. #mytitleisdr https://t.co/2dKpVPm6El
— Dr. Kim Gushanas @ 🏡 (@DrKimGushanas) December 15, 2020
— Dr. Michelle Barahman (@ShrinksWithInk) December 15, 2020
Her name is Dr. Jill Biden.
Misogyny cannot diminish her accomplishments as a teacher, a mother, an advocate for military families and as Second Lady. Her work has inspired women of all ages and I’m confident she’ll continue to do so as our First Lady.
We’re with you.
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) December 14, 2020
The GOP is out here worried about @DrBiden calling herself ‘Doctor’ even though she has an earned doctorate from an accredited institution, yet they had no problem with @MELANIATRUMP LYING about having a degree in architecture from the Univ of Slovenia.#BenShapiro#DrJillBiden
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) December 15, 2020
To get my PhD, I did 13 years of post high school education. That’s a lot of years of cheap ramen noodles. 9 of those years I was raising my daughter. It takes hard work and sacrifice to earn the title. #DrJillBiden
— Justine Siegal PhD (@justinebaseball) December 14, 2020
Thank you #DrJillBiden and all the women out there who proudly use their titles – and remind others to do the same.
I am Dr. Kathryn Lanier. pic.twitter.com/JHPRs9u72d
— Kathryn Lanier (@TheChemistryKat) December 14, 2020
One last tweet about this attack on @DrBiden from someone not worthy to be mentioned. This touches a nerve with me. I am so proud of my late wife’s accomplishments! She was a DOCTOR. Of education. Her framed doctoral degree is worth more to me than my own. #RespectWomen
— Ron Mott (@RonMott) December 14, 2020
Added ‘Dr.’ — as in Juris Doctor, cum laude, to my profile with pride and in support of @DrBiden. Shame on any man who calls an adult woman a “kiddo” unless he happens to be her father using a term of endearment. #PhDs
— Dr. Lisa Bowen (@ljbowen) December 14, 2020
Added ‘Dr’ to my profile, wearing my doctorate with pride. So #JosephEpstein and other bitter misogynists can crawl back to the 1930s. Doctorates are not easy, @DrBiden should be proud of her achievements. Being First Lady doesn’t and should not mean reducing who you are! #PhDs
— Dr. Yemisi Akinbobola (@DrYemisi) December 13, 2020
I assume you will follow your idiotic argument & now use the title she earned.
And maybe cut out the misogyny.
Dr Pyle pic.twitter.com/w6WRh8nbIK
— Glen Pyle | #WearAMask 😷 (@glenpyle) December 13, 2020
Women’s qualifications are less likely to be mentioned by men.
Study of 300+ intros of MD/PhD presenters:
Men introduced 72% of men as Dr. but only 49% of women as Dr.
Women introduced speakers as Dr. regardless of gender.
— Adam Grant (@AdamMGrant) December 13, 2020
As a doctoral candidate, I had a right laugh at Joseph Epstein’s insulting and obviously attention-seeking piece @wsj chose to print. Why are little men so threatened by accomplished women? Say it with me ladies and gents, Dr. Jill Biden. She earned it. Respect it.#DrJillBiden
— Tondi Ann (@tondi_mondi) December 13, 2020
For that alone the @WSJopinion owes Dr. Jill Biden an apology. What a disgrace! Hire a competent editor.
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) December 12, 2020
Biden responded indirectly to the opinion piece and tweeted: “Together, we will build a world where the achievements of our daughters will be celebrated rather than denigrated.”
Northwestern University, where Epstein had taught until 2003, distanced itself from him. The university issued a statement that the article “casts unmerited aspersion on Dr Jill Biden’s rightful public claiming of her doctoral credentials and expertise.”
However, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page editor Paul A Gigot dismissed the furore saying the publication has no plan to retract the piece.
In a follow-up piece, the publication said the criticism of a piece about a “relatively minor issue” was “overwrought” and accused the Biden camp of politicising the matter.