Women are often socialized to take up as little space as possible. This also means underselling achievements and talents.
In many of the dominant societies, the expected life goal for all women was to get married and have children. This is part of the societally ingrained patriarchy that feminism seeks to dismantle.
That pressure—get married and have children or as a woman you’re a failure—is still felt. And girls are taught from an early age that to be high achieving is to be intimidating or unattractive to boys.
Well, one woman said no more and decided that she should own her successes and hard work.
This past Wednesday, Dr. Fern Riddell tweeted…
My title is Dr Fern Riddell, not Ms or Miss Riddell. I have it because I am an expert, and my life and career consist of being that expert in as many different ways as possible. I worked hard to earned my authority, and I will not give it up to anyone.
— Dr Fern Riddell (@FernRiddell) June 13, 2018
Very quickly, other women with doctorates began to do the same thing. #ImmodestWomen (and the offshoot #ImmodestWoman) began to trend on Twitter.
Here are some of our favorites…
I once had a boyfriend who said to me, in tones of sudden, horrified realisation: 'But you're not actually going to CALL yourself “Doctor” when you get your PhD are you?' And that, bar the shouting, was the end of the relationship #ImmodestWomen
— Dr Katherine J. Lewis (@drkjlewis) June 14, 2018
I recently got asked by a young man (who knew I had a PhD in nuclear structure physics) if I understood what nuclear fusion was – so I just added in the Dr #ImmodestWomen
— Dr Patricia M Lewis (@PatriciaMary) June 15, 2018
I’m so proud to be a Dr that I wear a lanyard (on the way back from a conference). Seriously though, Dr means that I get to to define myself by my mind and hard work and not my age, or marital status. Sad that this feels like a luxury #ImmodestWomen pic.twitter.com/fwI7J2xDi3
— Dr Hannah Copley (@HCopley) June 14, 2018
— Dr Theresa (@treething) June 15, 2018
6 yrs ago when I told people my news – that I was getting tenure & getting married – over & over I got the same reaction: 'OMG you're getting MARRIED, congratulations!'
Like that's the achievement.
A few even asked, so you'll be a 'Mrs' now?
Nope. Still a Dr.#ImmodestWomen
— Robin Bates (@BritLitGirl) June 14, 2018
Yes, my PhD won't “keep me warm at night” and apparently marriage is the only event that can change your title but my relationship with my thesis was the longest and truest rship I've ever been in. #lovestory
So, even if it makes you uncomfortable, it's Dr… #ImmodestWomen
— Dr Robyn Atcheson (@randomrobyn) June 14, 2018
Women are reacting to the experiences these women shared with stories and suggestions of their own, even if they don’t have their doctorate… yet.
A friend got engaged the same week I got accepted into my Master’s program – one of us got a party, one got a worried lecture about being single in your late 20s
— Jenna Aronow, MS, NIC (@tweetingblonde) June 16, 2018
I see this constantly at my university when students are talking about other faculty. Men are “Dr.” or “Prof.” & women are called by their first name. It’s almost always male students. The thing is, I don’t think that they even realize that they’re doing it. #ImmodestWomen
— Dr. Connie Kassor (@constancekassor) June 14, 2018
I’m not a Dr but I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told to not mention my degree in English because it makes people uncomfortable, or told to ‘not be clever’ because it’s showing off, or makes me less likeable. I’ve had enough of that. #ImmodestWomen
— Michelle Birkby (@michelleeb) June 14, 2018
Ever do that thing where your friend tells you something bad about herself so you say something bad about yourself to make her feel better? How about you bring her up instead of putting you both down?Women need to brag more. It’s ok to be proud. Its why I love #immodestwomen
— Felicity Morse (@FelicityMorse) June 14, 2018
I'm not a Dr yet, but I am a proud member of the #ImmodestWomen society. Because words like 'immodest', 'arrogant', and 'vain' have been weaponised against women who dare to be confident, authoritative, and proud of their hard-earned achievements.
— Joan Passey (@JoanPassey) June 14, 2018
Dr. Riddell even chimed in with words of support for those using the hashtag and owning their success…
Okay the last 48 hours have been insane, and I am so blown away by the reaction to #ImmodestWomen.
Jokes aside, seeing so many women own the authority they have worked so hard for has been overwhelmingly awesome.
❤️ ❤️ ❤️ pic.twitter.com/dWuaqneSEN
— Dr Fern Riddell (@FernRiddell) June 15, 2018
And hopefully someday soon, women owning their accomplishments will be the norm.