Saturday, September 18, 2010

Academic titles for women, take two!

A male colleague and I once wrote a paper for a journal. I was first author, he was second author. We are both (still) PhD students, though he is perhaps slightly closer to finishing than I am. We mutually agreed he would be second author because I did the lion's share of the idea generation, research, paper writing, etc. Our websites both clearly indicate we are PhD students, as do our bios in the article.

Recently, one of the journal's editors contacted each of us individually to review a newly submitted article.

Here's the invitation to me:
Dear Ms. Ada Lovelace,
The following paper has been submitted for publication at Our Fantabulous Journal. Can you review it?
Thank you,
Journal Editor
Yet, here is the invitation to my fellow grad student:
Dear Dr. Charles Babbage, 
The following paper has been submitted for publication at Our Fantabulous Journal. Can you review it?
Thank you,
Journal Editor
I am intrigued. Why am I a "Ms." but he's a "Dr."? Is this one of those cases where the editor saw my colleague's name as second author and assumed he was the "senior author"? Even still, for a two-author publication, I'm not sure one can automatically assume the first author is PhD-less and the second author is PhD-full.

I guess this is better than the editor assuming I'm male.

Funny thing, though - a different (female) editor at the journal recently corresponded with us on another matter, and addressed me as "Professor Lovelace," and didn't address my co-author at all. We both found this highly amusing.

8 comments:

  1. I get this shit all the time. I'm an editor of a journal in my field where I am highly recognized as a leader, and for having finished my PHD!!!! in a lab that is well-known. At least once a month, some shitbrain replies with "Dear Ms JC" when they turn in their Reply To Editor remarks for their resubmission to me. It gets my goat every time. Even the editor chief has commented that they must still think I'm a grad student, which doesn't make any sense for an editorial position. But it makes Perfect Sense for a woman in ANY position!

    My students did the same thing when I taught classes and I told them to call me Dr J or I would think they were talking to their kindergarten teacher and not hear them.

    I have a theory that men are going to create some new abbreviation for women with PhD to yannow, separate us from THEIR PhDs. Men have Mr, Women have Mrs, Ms, Miss. I guarantee in my lifetime there will be some new letters for women with degrees. Dra for doctora, Profa for professora, Sca for scientista. And they will be written in pink.
    argh.
    jc

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  2. This is one issue (me assumed male, or Ms Lastname, or Dr Firstname, or just Firstname, or Ms Firstname) that no longer upsets me. I think I have just been desensitized. Now I'm just (almost) amused.

    But I must say I have never been referred to as anything but Dr. Lastname in any journal correspondence, even when I was a grad student. So you being Ms. Ada Lovelace is some really weird, unprofessional shit -- especially since they want you to do *them* a favor (review paper)...

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  3. I don't mind being referred to as Ms. Lovelace. I do not yet have a doctoral degree, so "Ms." is the proper, polite title for correspondence. But the editor calling my colleague "Dr." just because he's a man I found kind of insulting. If they'd called him "Mr." it would have been fine.

    The way I see it, even the busiest academic in the world can take 30 seconds to use google to determine someone's degree/professional status and gender, and if they can't figure it out just call them "Dr. Lastname". "Dear Sir" is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. People who write that must have watched too much Charlie Brown. ;-)

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  4. I hate, hate, hate being called Miss, but I am used to Ms. by now. I went to one meeting where all the male speakers were introduced as Dr (even the ones that were obviously students) and all the female speakers were introduced as Ms (even the ones that were obviously professors, staff scientists, or group leaders). That really pissed me off (and inspired me to put Prodigal Academic, PhD on my intro slide).

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  5. Ugh. That would seriously bug me. I might have even be more tongue-in-cheek than that and do something like, "Dr. Ada Lovelace, PhD" :-) But for most of the male scientists I know, such a jab would be waaaaay below their radar.

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  6. what's in the name?
    that, which we call a rose by any other name will smell as sweet.

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. Buck Reed Achievements and his vision and success http://www.buckreed.org/buckreedvision.html

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