Monday, February 7, 2011

Can I call you Ms?

I'm teaching a sophomore class of 50+ students. At first, they seemed baffled at how to address me. I was addressed as Professor X, Dr. X, Ms. X., and Dr. "First Initial". All of these are cool with me except calling me Ms. It drives me nuts! If the students can address male professors as Dr., then why not the same for female professors? An informal survey around my department indicated that no male professors were called "Mr" and that female professors were sometimes called "Ms".

So now we've identified the problem here: students call female professors "Ms" at my particular university. I've cleared the problem up mostly for my course by the following actions. First, I sign every email as "Dr. X". Second, in class, I refer to myself in the third person as "Dr. X". Third, I tell the students "My last name is hard to pronounce, so you can pronounce my name as 'Dr.X'". I cleared up the problem in about a week without calling out a student for their misguiding addressing. Unfortunately, this problem will come up every semester that I teach, so I've got to cringe through the "Ms".

Other than that, I'm happy with teaching. It's fun and rewarding!


Pharm Sci Grad said...

Yes. This is true in more places than one. Here I was thinking it was more an age thing (i.e. you look too young to be a doctor), but perhaps it's not. I personally am looking forward to being able to say, actually, it's Dr. "last name" and avoid the whole Miss/Ms/Mrs thing forever.

You're a lot nicer about it than I'd tend to be, although that's probably the better way to do it. Hope the teaching continues to be enjoyable!!

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem -- and I don't look too young to be a Dr. :).

I'm lucky in that I just defended -- so I can tell them that I'm still quite excited to be Dr. S.

Anonymous said...

I did the same survey at my PUI. No male faculty in my small department have been called Mr., All females (n=2) have been called Ms. Mrs. and Miss on several occations.

PUI prof said...

Me too! I blogged here about it:

Anonymous said...

I have been called Mr. by some students, although I find they seem to default to "sir" in most cases and I think "maam/miss" is often seen as the female equivalent to Sir.

My colleauge is a lecturer without a PhD, and people seem even more confused as to what to call him, although "mr" would be the most appropriate title, I would think

Lisa said...

ugh i have the same problem. part of it is age. i look about 10 yrs younger than my age which places me at exactly undergrad age. meh. i specifically told students this semester to address me as prof x, dr. x or first name. it cleared it up pretty well for those students.