Former first lady Michelle Obama has expressed her disappointment with an opinion piece about incoming first lady Jill Biden that was published Friday by The Wall Street Journal. The op-ed written by Joseph Epstein argued that Jill should drop “Dr.” from her name when she enters the White House with President-elect Joe Biden.
Jill, who studied at Brandywine Junior College in Pennsylvania, earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees before she got her doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007.
Epstein’s op-ed suggests that the future first lady should drop the “Dr.” title she uses because her doctorate is not in the field of medicine.
“‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic,” Epstein wrote. “Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title ‘Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.’
“A wise man once said that no one should call himself ‘Dr.’ unless he has delivered a child. Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc,” wrote Epstein, who began the piece by addressing Jill as “Madame First Lady — Mrs. Biden — Jill — kiddo.”
Epstein’s op-ed about the longtime educator has been criticized by many including women in academia as sexist and disdainful. Michelle couldn’t agree more. In an Instagram post on Monday, Michelle praised Jill for successfully being able to manage more than one responsibility at a time, from her teaching duties to her White House obligations to her roles as a mother and wife during the Obama administration.
“And right now, we’re all seeing what also happens to so many professional women, whether their titles are Dr., Ms., Mrs., or even First Lady: All too often, our accomplishments are met with skepticism, even derision. We’re doubted by those who choose the weakness of ridicule over the strength of respect. And yet somehow, their words can stick—after decades of work, we’re forced to prove ourselves all over again,” the “Becoming” author wrote.
“Is this really the example we want to set for the next generation?” the former first lady asked, adding that Jill will be a “terrific role model not just for young girls but for all of us.”
69-year-old Jill, who hinted recently of plans to continue teaching as a college professor while serving as the first lady, is yet to officially respond to the “misogynistic” op-ed. On Sunday, she however appeared to have commented on it in a tweet. “Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished,” her tweet read.
Women have also taken to Twitter to urge others with degrees to add them to their name. “Are you a woman with a doctorate? No matter your discipline, drop a picture here to show that we are here, we exist, and we won’t drop our title for any mediocre man’s comfort,” Dr. Claudia Antolini, a U.K.-based astronomer with a Ph.D. in cosmology, wrote in a tweet.
Meanwhile, Jill’s husband Biden was on Monday formally elected as president by the Electoral College, which gave him a majority of 306 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 232.