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Honorific Doctors

December 3, 2012

I use my honorific approximately never.  I’ll sometimes choose it as a gender neutral prefix for internet drop down forms.  It pops up on wedding invitations (Dr. and Mrs. Zwitter Ionique!).  It hangs out in the rarely used “formal” version of my e-mail signature.  And when I’m listed as a reference for a trainee, it shows up there as well.

Recently a hiring manager e-mailed me, using the honorific, about a minion.  After a quick bout of phone tag, we connected by phone.  And… he asked to speak to Miss. Ionique.  Not Doctor (which, given the context, was probably the most appropriate).  Not my first name (which would have been totally cool). Not Ms (which would have been fine).  Not Mrs. (which would be a little weird, but whatever).  But Miss.  Like it was the 1950’s and I was wearing a polyester dress and taking dictation in short hand.

Now, he had a lot of forms of address to choose from however I was “introduced” as Doctor.  During our polite, professional game of phone tag, I re-introduced myself as “Zwitter”.  To chose to ask for “Miss” signaled a lack of respect for my experience.  Not only does it ignore my education but he also picked the honorific that is specific for (young) unmarried women, implying a lack of life experience (that both Ms and Mrs allow for).  Indeed, I had to spend a significant portion of our conversation on my own credentials as a scholar and an advisor before this d00d respected me enough to give my opinion about my minion any weight.  As ego-building as it can be to hear someone mentally totally revising their opinion of you up several notches over the phone, it’s also a little depressing to know that he called expecting to speak with someone with the breadth of experience of an undergrad.

Please.  Unless someone specifically introduces themselves as Miss, don’t use it.

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