Woman slams airline after flight attendant refers to her as 'Miss' instead of 'Doctor'
Civil rights activists often use the term 'Microaggression' to describe the everyday exclusion and prejudice which women and minorities often face. These things may sound trivial on the surface, but when they all add up, they can often make life downright unbearable for people on the receiving end of them. Unfortunately, the nature of microaggressions means that they're often subjective, and the topic is usually quite contentious. What one person considers to be a small and spiteful act of oppression, another person might dismiss as being no big deal. It all depends on your perspective.
Recently, an Australian doctor living in the UK proved this by voicing her indignance at the way she was treated by a flight attendant on a trip. Dr Siobhan O'Dwyer tweeted: "She wrote: "Hey Qantas, my name is Dr O'Dwyer. My ticket says Dr O'Dwyer. Do not look at my ticket, look at me, look back at my ticket, decide it's a typo and call me Miss O'Dwyer. I did not spend 8 years at university to be called Miss."
A number of Twitter users rallied around her, with one person writing: "I grew up with addressing someone by their title (Dr, Prof, Lt, Gen, etc.) as a sign of respect towards the other person. Tbf, if you call me Miss outside of work, I won’t mind - but if it’s written on a document (eg. this case), it’d still be fair to be acknowledged, that’s all."
Another person added: "You have all of the solidarity on this issue. I'm first gen to finish high school (let alone get several degrees) in my family ... I'll be damned is some trolley dolly gets to decide what honorific I get called, FFS."
However, there was some backlash to the above tweet, particularly from other airline employees who interpreted the sentiment expressed as being patronising. One fellow flight attendant wrote: "Please don't refer to us as trolley dollies. We may not have completed a PhD, however, we are required by law 2 maintain quals that enable us to evacuate an aircraft in 90 secs, keep you alive in-flight, prevent hijacking, put out fires etc."
She added: "I have always used the correct honorific. And I have always been especially careful to ensure I used it when I saw it on a woman's boarding pass as I was proud to be able to support the woman and her achievements in a male-centric world. You've just gone and sh*t on that with your condescending comment about us."
So was Dr O'Dwyer justified in her indignation? Or is she taking a social faux pas too seriously? Whatever your take on the issue, it's clear that we need to start having an open and honest discussion about how we treat female doctors, professors, and other academics and avoid making snap judgements about them based solely on their gender.