Friday, September 29, 2006

It must be because I'm so pretty.

There is a student in the department that for some reason, calls me by my first name even though he calls all the other professors Dr. ____. At first I assumed it's because I'm young and cool and whatever, but, today I learned differently.

Our freshman orientation classes are doing a video scavenger hunt. One of the questions is to tape a professor introducing themselves. This student (not a freshman, but one of the "student mentors" assigned to a group of several first-year students) was leading his group of freshmen past my office, and I overheard the following conversation:

Student: Can we ask her?
Mentor: The scavenger hunt sheet says FACULTY MEMBER.
Student: Isn't she a faculty member?
Mentor: You have to be a Doctor. She's not a Doctor. Let's ask Dr. _____.


Some years ago, I saw a portrait of Avogadro. It made me think about how so many geniuses are kind of hard to look at . . . and so many beautiful people - well, you know, maybe they don't have to learn to use their brain. Anyway, sometimes when I do something particularly stupid, I joke to myself, "I must be really pretty today."

But, seriously, I do wonder why that student made the assumption that I am not a faculty member. I have my own office. I teach classes. I advise graduate students. But I don't look quite as old and nerdy as some of the other faculty members. Or is it something else?


~profgrrrrl~ said...

Wow. That would really bug me, even though I'm generally not big on wearing the title.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and have read a few of your entries--nice work. I am university professor, too, and find some of your observations quite interesting. It is funny how, as you note in this entry, that some students seem oblivious to even the basic facts about the work we do. At my university, I was stunned a few years ago when the student recruitment officer seemed completely unaware of the fact that the faculty have PhD's and that they conduct research. I cannot imagine what the students are thinking...

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should put Dr. ... or ...,PhD on your syllabus.

FTIC students (and some university employees?) are not familiar with the culture of a university, where titles like Dr are so common that no one bothers to use them.

The student might also assume that women are (HS) teachers and men are Herr Doctor Professors. (Sexism is far from dead.) Next time you run into him, you might mention that it would have been OK to videotape you, since you are a tenure-track faculty member with a PhD.

Quycksilver said...

I just found your blog too. I get the sam thing, although for me, I'm freshed degreed and not on the t-t yet, but a I've been getting a *lot* of emails from students interested in taking my class next semester, and they all address me by my first name. I know I am sensitive to the topic, but seriously I would never email a professor, much less one that I have never met without "Dear Professor/Dr. So and So."

Anyway, it probably doesn't help that I look young and have long blonde hair.

Anonymous said...

This is absurd and disrespectful. I'm an undergraduate at a large university, and several of my language instructors do not hold PHDs. They are "Mr. X" or "Ms. Y" (or Magistra, in the case of my Latin teacher), while those with PHDs are "Dr. Z" or "Professor N."

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