Nascida e criada em Portugal. Já morei na Polónia, no Brasil, na República Checa e agora é a Suécia que me acolhe.
O meu blogue, tal como o meu cérebro, é uma mistura de línguas. Bem vindos!

Born and raised Portuguese. I have lived in Poland, Brazil, Czech Republic and now I'm in the beautiful Sweden.
My blog, just like my brain, is a blend of languages. Welcome!

terça-feira, 8 de março de 2016

Mr. Prof. Dr. Eng. Sir

I never use my title outside of my professional circles. Professionally I never use it myself, but I accept if others do it to introduce me to someone. I don't accept it because I think I'll be more respected, but because I know it cuts short the conversation and avoids embarrassing situations. Although I enjoy when someone mistakes me by an undergrad student (I look young yay!), others may be offended and the person asking gets embarrassed on both situations. Also, if someone is looking for a student or a senior scientist for his/her group, doesn't have to waste time talking to the wrong person. To avoid introducing myself as Dr., I usually just say my name and that I work as a postdoc at X, and that gets the same message across. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against people using their titles. It's totally up to each individual to use it or not. I just don't like to use mine. To explain you why would probably take another very long post, so I won't go there. 

Today I came across a very funny text about the use of titles in Portugal. I laughed a lot with it because it reminds me of funny situations I have been through. The "Drs." the author talks about are not PhD holders but people who have an university degree. It is also not uncommon to find people without any university studies call themselves Dr. and demanding that others do so, just because they have a certain status (common among politicians or people working in the city hall and similar, but not only).

The only time I used my title outside of work was with one of these "Drs.". I needed some sort of paper and the clerk told me she would have to see with the "Dr." if I could have that or not. Although it was 10 am, the "Dr." was not at work yet, which is also not that uncommon. My mum was with me and while we waited for him, she told me that she used to know the person who worked in that position before, but he had troubles finishing high school and he was no Dr. at all, so it must be a different person now. Some time later the clerk points out a man coming in and tells us to talk to him ourselves. My mum tells me, in a whisper, that indeed it is the person she was talking about before. When we approached him and he introduces himself as Dr. Y (in a very cocky way I must add), I couldn't help it but introduce myself as Dr. Sara C. I had just finished my PhD. I was 26 and I was dressed like I was 20. He looked very confused. He never asked me anything, but I could see he wanted to. I got my paper and when we walked out we couldn't stop laughing.

I'll leave a bit of the text I found below, and if you want the full version is here (first in Portuguese and then in English).

"In Portugal, there are also plenty of titles… and an awful lot of people who use them.
There are so many doctors, they’re kind of not special any more. Doctors, medical ones, ARE special, and I’ll always be happy to call a medical doctor whatever he or she wants me to call them; my life is in his or her hands.
If you are an architect, do you bristle if the brickie doesn’t call you Sr. Arquitecto as a sign of respect, even though you know he goes round the corner and calls you an idiot? And do you call him Sr. Brickie? No, you call him “Bob”. If you are an engineer, do you feel respected when someone calls you Sr. Engenheiro even though they laugh behind your back at your absolute insistence on being called Sr. Engenheiro?
It is what it’s all about, isn’t it, being publicly respected, deemed better and treated better because you have a certain degree or profession?
This clamouring for respect is so undignified, so silly, when all someone should really be respected for, beyond being a fellow human being (and that should be enough), is being good at what they do. No? To some people, titles seem more important than the actual work that they are supposedly doing, more important than the healing, than the building, than the teaching, than the designing, the thing that really defines and deserves the respect of others, the hard work.
To my silly foreign eyes, all this titling signals a lack of self esteem. Not many people go against the grain and say “for god’s sake, just call me Bob, not Sr. Dr. Professor Engenheiro” and so the system persists, in which people demand the lip service of respect via a silly title. It is a huge pity, because Portugal really does have so many people to be damned proud of, without having to give them a title."
Lucy Pepper in Observador

6 comentários:

  1. Hi Sara, I love your approach! I'm a qualified medical dr but haven't practised medicine for over 10 years... So I never use my title... Except I'd be tempted to in a similar situation to yours! Have a beautiful day!

    1. Thanks! I'm glad I'm not the only one who would react like that.

  2. One of the reasons I thought people in Portugal were so pompous! My husband is an engineer but never wanted to have this title in his bank account, still because we lived in a small town a lot of people knew what he did and addressed him as "Sr Engenheiro", to which he always replied: Please call me Jose.
    Luckily here in Australia the only people who are called Drs are the Medical doctors! Even then, and I work in a clinic, a lot of the patients who've know them for a few years call them by their first name, and so do we, the staff.
    In Portugal I had a neighbour who I knew didn't have a degree at all, but her husband was a lawyer (Dr of course!) and she also entitled herself as Doctor!

    1. Pompous is a good word to describe that kind of people!
      I forgot about the posh ladies who get their degree by marriage, but I also know a few of those. Luckily, we both moved to countries where that kind of formality doesn't exist. Send my greetings to Sr. Engenheiro José ;)

    2. Lol, thanks Sara. When buying a flight ticket, one of the reasons "real Doctors" put their title there is because if there's an emergency they can be called upon to help, I can just imagine the Portuguese flights there will be 80% doctors, but probably not a single one of them is a "real Doctor".

    3. Yes, I also think that's how it is. We must have the highest rate of Dr/m2!


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