30 may. 2011

Don't call me Doctor

It's a funny thing, but a professor being called "Doctor Mayhew..." is actually a low status marker. In Cal Newport's book How To Be a High School Superstar, which my daughter is reading, I found a confirmation of this. He refers to "an elegant experiment in which researchers called the voice mail of professors in the California public university system. As predicted, the better the school's rating, the less likely they were to hear 'you've reached Doctor...' start the voice mail greeting" (p. 151). It makes perfect sense. If you aren't a physician, you don't need to be called doctor just because you have a PhD. If you feel the need to use the doctor title, you are very insecure.

9 comentarios:

Vance Maverick dijo...

Your subject line is about how I should address you -- but the text is about how you present yourself. I understand that you don't ask to be called Dr. Mayhew ("I worked hard for that title!"), but do you really find it lowering for a student to do so?

Jonathan dijo...

I don't correct people who call me that, because it doesn't bother me a whole lot. The little bit that it does bother me, I had been misanalyzing as humility. It was not actually humility, but the opposite.

Sarang dijo...

Related: people calling themselves "so-and-so, PhD" in public are almost invariably charlatans.

In physics "Dr." is a common neutral salutation in form letters/letters to authors of papers, because as well as professors one comes across a large number of postdocs, staff scientists, national lab types, etc.; not to mention that "Dr." is a gender-neutral term, which is useful in a very international discipline in which a lot of people have names that are somewhat opaque as to gender.

Jonathan dijo...

In the Humanities we prefer Professor, which is likewise gender neutral. I see why the practice in science is somewhat different, since a lot of doctors aren't technically professors. In everyday life, outside the lab, I'm assuming science professors don't try to make other people call them them "doctor." Some people want their neighbors to call them that, but they turn out to be educational administrators or optometrists.

Clarissa dijo...

I actually prefer to be called Doctor. "Professor" sounds like it's just naming my job title, while "Doctor" sounds like a mark of respect.

Spanish prof dijo...

I don't mind between Professor and Doctor. But for me and, I guess, a lot of women in certain fields, Doctor is not a sign of lower status. In fact, one of my pet peeves is when they call me "Senora" (sorry, wrong keyboard, don't know how to use it very well). I am in a small department, where there are a lot of instructors/adjuncts (without a PhD), so students call the (female) instructors "Senora", as they would in high school. Now, none of my male principal faculty colleagues gets call "Senor". It's always Dr. X or Professor X. So even if they do it unconsciously, to be call "Senora" is a sign of sexism on their part. So I always tell them they can call me Professor of Dr., but not "Senora"

Clarissa dijo...

Freshmen students have a tendency to call me "Miss" and pronounce it like "Meeees." Which I find to be beyond annoying.

Professor Zero dijo...

I hate being called senhora, but it happens. I have also learned to like being called Dr. because the M.A. instructors, who resent us, have all told the students to call them "Professor." So, if I allow myself to be called "Professor" at work, I get less respect because people don't know I have a PhD and am research faculty and think it's just seniority that gets me the right to teach graduate courses.

Professor Zero dijo...

...oh yes and -- I know the content of this post is what we are *supposed* to think and I said it for years! It's not that I mind for reasons having to do with prestige for me, the fact that the older instructors call themselves and have themselves called "Professor." They can do what they want as far as I am concerned, but the problem is that it undermines teaching. As in: they say to me, "Mrs. ---, Professor So and So lectures in English and I think you should, too." Stuff like that! So in self defense, I now emphasize Dr.