strange_complex: (C J Cregg)
I've just received an email from a female student, addressing me as 'Miss X' - not at all an uncommon occurrence. I like to think I'm not the kind of person who would feel the need to go round with a stick up my ass about people getting my title wrong like this - except that the rest of her email goes on to demonstrate perfectly why, nevertheless, I do. Within three sentences, she has gone on to mention (in the context of possible dissertation supervisors for next year) two of my male colleagues - and both of them are referred to, entirely correctly, as 'Dr. Y' and 'Dr. Z'.

Just for the record, it's not that she hasn't had every opportunity of noticing that I am a Doctor, too. She took one of my modules last year, so would have seen it on the module documentation. Meanwhile, this year she is studying in Italy, and as such has received numerous emails from me in my capacity as Study Abroad coordinator, all of which included my full name and title in the signature file. Also, one of the male colleagues she mentions is of a very similar age to me - so this should rule out the possibility that she is assuming I am too young to have become a Doctor yet. All that's left is an apparent unconscious assumption that female academics are not equivalent in status to their male colleagues.

It's not the first time I've seen this, or the first time I've seen it coming from someone who is female themselves. I recognise that a lot of people don't really understand what academic titles mean, or how you earn them. But even if you don't know the fine details, I think it's generally clear enough that 'Doctor' is an honorific, earned title. Seeing female academics regularly stripped of it by underlying assumptions about their intellectual status, while their male colleagues are not, is just one more sign of how unbalanced gender relations continue to be.


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