I work in local government (law enforcement), where titles are pretty important. I am a civilian supervisor with a doctorate degree. No one else there has this degree. I completed it two years ago. Is it unreasonable to be referred to as Dr. in a professional setting? Don’t know if it makes a difference but I am a female in a highly male industry.

For example, we had an awards ceremony that certain supervisors spoke at. The Chief of Police referred to them with their title, such as Lieutenant Camp, Major Short, but I was referred to as Jen Smith (my name is Jennifer). Even in the email previously about it, the Chief called everyone by their title and me as Supervisor Smith.

The year before he called me Dr. Smith. Even other emails that come to me refer to people’s titles except for me.

I know typically only people in academic settings are called Dr. except for where titles are used, and they are used pretty strongly at my place of employment. I am five years from retirement and have been with the organization for over 20 years. Originally, I got the doctorate because I thought I could make a difference, but now I don’t even care because I do not think I am taken seriously. Almost everything I do is questioned. I have the doctorate designation in my work e-mail signature.

Thanks for any insight.

  • 3
    This question might be better suited for The Workplace.
    – GoodDeeds
    Mar 14 at 16:23
  • 4
    This is an interesting question, but it probably comes down to your office's culture (or "police culture" more generally). As a bunch of academics, we really can't tell you anything other than the technical answer, which is that you do technically have the right to your title if you have earned it.
    – cag51
    Mar 14 at 16:50
  • 3
    I just want to reach out and say - this is really frustrating. I think that the biggest issue is that you don't feel respected in the workplace. Like so many women and minorities I have talked to, you got a graduate degree thinking you would finally receive some respect, and it has not worked. It is a tough nut to crack. I think you should definitely continue to "advertise" your degree in correspondence, but I am not sure what to do about asking your supervisors to use the title...
    – Dawn
    Mar 14 at 17:00
  • 3
    Contrary to what other people here think, I think that the Academia.SE community would better be able to relate and answer questions about when academic titles are appropriate to use, even if in non-academic settings. The vast majority of the people at Workplace.SE don't have doctoral degrees, and this question won't have the same meaning to them as it does to people here.
    – Nik
    Mar 14 at 17:58
  • 1
    Not answerable in the SE context, but...it sounds to me like this was a work title situation where title (Supervisor) was appropriate but ignored, and that's reasonable to be annoyed about. My rule of thumb for "Dr" is whether Mr/Ms would be appropriate if I didn't have the degree.
    – user137975
    Mar 14 at 18:39


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