#ImmodestWomen – Why I am choosing to be modest

The support for #immodestwomen on Twitter over the last week has been remarkable. Women taking a stand and declaring that their professional achievements should be recognised just in the same way as men’s is powerful. I haven’t changed my personal Twitter account and it isn’t because I don’t support #immodestwomen, because I most certainly do, it’s because I don’t feel the need. Let me explain.

I whole heartedly disagree that women in the UK should be defined by marital status (Miss, Mrs) whereas men are not. I actually think this is the issue that needs tackled and would encourage women, no matter what age, status or profession to change to Ms should they indeed want to have a title at all.

In terms of the Dr title, I have found the Twitter conversations very insightful. First off is the idea that only medical professionals should use the Dr. title, well to those of you who believe that, maybe have a go educating yourself of the history of the Dr. title. It comes from Latin meaning to teach and was used for centuries by academics before it started being applied in the medical profession.

Secondly, every person, man or women, is entitled to use their professional title if they so wish, I can’t understand why people are critical of those who choose to change their Twitter name to include Dr. It’s a great achievement that people should be proud of and others should recognise that.

So, why have I not done it, you may ask. It’s quite simple, I like to be modest. Academia is filled with men and women who are egotistical, competitive and arrogant. Yes those individuals may get further in their career and get some degree of respect, but that’s not who I am. I am proud of myself for earning my doctorate and I know I deserved it. I also hold an enormous amount of respect for colleagues who do amazing research, writing and teaching who don’t hold a doctorate. I am no better than them just because I completed my PhD.

My Dr title does not define me, it is a part of who I am and what I have achieved. I don’t even mind if I’m not introduced as Dr, I know I have a doctorate and I know my own worth. From my previous blogs, readers will be well aware that I am a supporter of modesty in academia and it’s a trait that I welcome. I find it sad in a way that many women are feeling the need to change their Twitter name just because we are told it is what we should do to be equal to men (yes that’s a very simplified way of putting it). Some argue it is about respect, well in that case I question whether we respect others just based on their title and, if so, does that make us shallow? There are many Profs and readers and Drs who I have little respect for because of their immodesty, and in all honestly I think there’s a lot of twats in academia. I like to be introduced to people by their name, not their title, it is friendlier and more personable. I am not going to lower myself to the standards of arrogant men, I am proud of my modesty and it has never stopped me in my career path. At conferences I am often mistaken for being a doctoral student, but this isn’t because of my gender, it’s because my grandmother taught from a young age to use Olay (or Oil of Olay as it was called back then) and as such my age can be deceiving. As much as we say don’t judge a book by its cover, also don’t judge an academic by their title.

So my take is, if you want to use your title then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, you earned it. But don’t do it for the wrong reasons. If you are a modest person and feel uncomfortable being immodest then don’t change. I salute all academics, Dr or not, who work hard, work together and see each other as people, title or no title. I am comfortable just being me, I am a #modestwoman


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