As a woman who holds a Ph.D., I was seething before I finished his first paragraph. But I wasn’t surprised. It’s commonplace for women with expertise in this country to be expected to deny it — which is exactly why it’s so important that Dr. Biden use her “Dr.” title in the White House, prominently and with pride.
Epstein gives away his sexism immediately by opening his op-ed with the advice that “no one should call himself ‘Dr.’ unless he has delivered a child.” In other words, part of his problem appears to be that Dr. Biden is not a man.
Epstein also argues that it has become easy to get a doctorate degree these days. He makes this inaccurate and offensive claim despite never having managed to earn one himself. Yet he devotes the most paragraphs to making the claim that honorary degrees are given out to undeserving celebrities — even though Dr. Biden is not using her title because she has received an honorary degree. She earned an actual one. I can only guess, therefore, that his nonsensical argument is intended to generally cast aspersions on the incoming first lady.
America needs to stop lecturing and start learning from women who have expertise. By using her “Dr.” title in the White House, Dr. Biden would show by example that women shouldn’t deny their rightful authority. She would also show other women and girls what’s possible for them. Indeed, I don’t recall ever meeting a woman with a Ph.D. until I went to college.
In 2017, Dr. Biden spoke at the commencement ceremony at Hofstra University, where I teach. The president of our university told her that one of my colleagues, a university administrator, had just earned her graduate degree but was not planning to walk in the ceremony. Dr. Biden insisted that my colleague put on a robe and go up to the stage with her classmates because it was important to recognize all the work that had gotten her there.
Given the misogyny we’re up against, this is a message that other women clearly need to hear. And Dr. Biden is uniquely positioned to send it from one of the most powerful places on earth, simply by using her rightful title.