This post is related to this one about esteemed environmental psychologist Dr. Arline Bronzaft and her groundbreaking work on reducing noise levels in New York City in order to increase our quality of life.
The author of the New York Times article featuring her and her work mistakenly referred to her as "Ms. Bronzaft" instead of "Dr. Bronzaft." In fairness, not everyone who independently conducts psychological research has a Ph.D. However, Dr. Bronzaft is 77 years old and has been conducting her groundbreaking research since the early 1970s, so I found it very unlikely that she wouldn't have a Ph.D., which is generally the minimum educational requirement for being considered an expert in the field of psychology. A simple Google search entering her first and last name shows that she is indeed Dr. Bronzaft.
It'd be one thing if the NYT didn't have a history of minimizing the accomplishments of lady scientists. However, given the relatively recent controversy caused by the poorly-presented obituary of rocket scientist Yvonne Brill, which opened up with the line "She made a mean beef stroganoff," you'd think the NYT columnists would take extra special care to NOT make this mistake again.
As many of you know, I'm currently working on my Ph.D. in developmental psychology and, if the educational credentials of a big-time psychologist are being ignored, I can't imagine what an article on a novice like me would sound like. So I decided to let Bobby know so she could tweet at the author of the article in question Clyde Haberman at @ClydeHaberman.
Here's what went down:
@ClydeHaberman Re: your article on esteemed environmental psychologist Arline Bronzaft, she has a PhD, so it's Dr. Bronzaft!
@BishfaceBobby Unless a person is currently teaching or in another activity that's PhD-relevant, NYT style is to not use "Dr."
@ClydeHaberman This article was about her work, which is relevant to her PhD. Referring to her as Ms didn't seem appropriate in this context
Does this sound right to you guys? It doesn't to me, but I'm not a journalist. I'd like to think that if I'm no longer doing "PhD-relevant" work that I'd still be referred to with my title, ESPECIALLY if I were being interviewed about my current work!
UPDATE: Thanks to LurkerByNature, we now know that Arline Bronzaft was referred to as "Dr." in a previous NYT article published this past July. Good find, Lurker!
Thanks to everyone who tweeted at Clyde Haberman today! It means a lot to me and to women in science everywhere.