Women With Doctorates “Get No Respect”

A study led by researchers at the Mayo Clinic Arizona, Arizona State University, and Texas Tech University found that women doctors are less likely than their male counterparts to be addressed as “Doctor.”

Arizona State University Professor Patricia Friedrich, a co-author of the study, and her husband Luiz Mesquita both hold doctorates. But she noticed that when the two were together, her husband was often addressed as “Dr.” while she was referred to as “Patty.”

Researchers examined videotapes of hundreds of speaker introductions at two major medical gatherings. They found that when women introduced male speakers they referred to the speaker as “Dr.” 95 percent of the time. But when men introduced women speakers, they referred to the speaker as “Dr.” only 49 percent of the time.

Dr. Friedrich noted that “some people say, what’s the big deal? It’s such a minor thing, why should anybody care?” But she added that “I think this is one of those linguistic situations where we called attention to something that might not be intentional but now we have the ability to try and change it by initiating practices that are more even across genders. Sometimes language changes because society changes, and sometimes society changes because language changes.”

Professor Friedrich is a graduate of Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil, where she majored in English and Portuguese. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in linguistics from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The study, “Speaker Introductions at Internal Medicine Grand Rounds: Forms of Address Reveal Gender Bias,” was published in the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Women’s Health. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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  1. Dr.Carlos Minor says:

    I am not surprised by these results. As an Afro-Latino male in education I find myself correcting people over and over that I am Dr. and not Mr. I have been deemed to be “arrogant” and “bragging” for wanting to be addressed by my proper honorific while my male counterparts in the majority do not have such issues.

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