Dr Jill Biden, the incoming First Lady of the United States, responded to the controversial Wall Street Journal op-ed that suggested she drop her honorific during an interview. Talking to American television host Stephen Colbert on The Late Show‘s Thursday episode, Biden, who has a PhD in education, said, “One of the things I’m most proud of is my doctorate.” The 69-year-old, appearing on the talk show with husband and President-Elect Joe Biden, mentioned that the WSJ article by Joseph Epstein, who deemed her title “fraudulent” came as “such a surprise” to her. The op-ed, published on December 11, had amassed global outrage for attempting to belittle a woman’s achievements.
Biden, who will reportedly be the first-ever First Lady with a full-time paying job and will continue to teach during her time at the White House, told Colbert, “It was the tone of it [the article]… He called me “kiddo.” One of the things I’m most proud of is my doctorate. I’m so proud of it.” President-Elect Biden also recalled how he was present at his wife’s thesis and handed her the doctorate on stage.
WSJ Op-Ed Sparks Massive Outrage For Its Sexism
An op-ed, titled Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D. was written by Joseph Epstein, professor emeritus at Northwestern University, and published in the prestigious Wall Street Journal on December 11. In it, Epstein had derided Biden for using the honorific she obtained for a doctorate in education, saying it “feels fraudulent, even comic.”
“Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the ‘Dr.’ before your name?” he wrote.
The piece had instantly sparked social media outrage for trying to deprecate Biden and PhD holders in general. Biden, without naming Epstein or the context, had tweeted the following in the wake of the backlash to the op-ed:
Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished.
— Dr. Jill Biden (@DrBiden) December 14, 2020
Michelle Obama Defends Jill Biden
Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States and wife of former President Barack Obama, had also extended solidarity to Biden through a social media post. On Instagram, she wrote, “For eight years, I saw Dr. Jill Biden do what a lot of professional women do—successfully manage more than one responsibility at a time… 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.”
Biden and Obama have maintained a close association since 2008, when the latter’s husband was campaigning for Presidency with the former’s husband as Vice President. The former First Lady further expounded on Biden, “She will be a terrific role model not just for young girls but for all of us, wearing her accomplishments with grace, good humor, and yes, pride.”
Watch Jill Biden’s response to the WSJ op-ed here: