Dr. Siobhan O’Dwyer, an Australian psychology researcher based in Exeter, UK, tweeted on Friday, Aug. 31, about the way she was addressed when boarding a flight.
She wrote, “Hey @Qantas, my name is Dr O’Dwyer. My ticket says Dr O’Dwyer. Do not look at my ticket, look at me, look back at my ticket, decide it’s a typo, and call me Miss O’Dwyer. I did not spend 8 years at university to be called Miss.”
Her tweet received over 8,000 likes and sparked a fierce debate, with some saying O’Dwyer should “check her ego” and others expressing solidarity with her.
Twitter user Rob Hood said he supported the airline attendant: “Try saying ‘hello’ to 150-350 people in 20 mins and get all the names and titles correct. All whilst checking the flight number, departure & arrival point, date, and seat number on every boarding pass. Oh and ensuring nobody is too sick/drunk to fly. Mistakes happen. Sorry Doctor.”
British man Tim Almond said he had two friends who were nonmedical doctors who didn’t use their titles on aircraft because they would be “asking for trouble.”
“A passenger gets stuck and they’ll ask you for help,” he tweeted.
One person said that airlines regularly called her “wheelchair” because she was disabled.
Victoria Jones tweeted, “When I was a Miss I wasn’t called Miss, I don’t get called Mrs and I doubt I’ll ever hear Dr. I’m in a wheelchair and every airline literally calls me “wheelchair”. Like I’m an object.”
Many people debated the merits of being a medical doctor versus a doctor of philosophy.
One tweeted, “My PhD (that makes me a “Dr.” in Germany) took three years of full-time research, yeah. During that time, I supervised over a dozen medical doctors who got their title within three months working after hours.”
There have been almost 2,500 replies to the original tweet, prompting O’Dwyer to post a follow-up tweet saying that she was “copping so much flack” for what she wrote.
She tweeted, “This was not about my ego. It was about highlighting one of a thousand instances of sexism that women encounter every day. It’s not about the title, it’s about the fact that this wouldn’t have happened if I was a man.”
However, in a photo posted to her Instagram account—since taken private—O’Dwyer displayed a boarding card that reads “Mr Siobhan Odwyer,” leading to speculation that the attendant may have made a simple mistake when addressing her as Miss.
A Qantas representative told Daily Mail Australia, “We are extremely proud of our cabin crew who respectfully serve our customers day in and day out and play a vital safety role.”
O’Dwyer said she had turned down all requests for interviews because the response to her tweet had been so “vitriolic.”
“I don’t want to provide further opportunities for attack,” she tweeted.