Call Her Doctor
Laura Alyssa Platé
Aug. 30, 2019
In my experience, I have never once heard a student call a male professor with a Ph.D. Mr., but every semester without fail I hear students call their women professors things like “Mrs.” Dooley, “Mrs.” Bewick and “Mrs.” Tingle.
Regardless of whether or not they are married, they spent years of their lives compiling research in their specific field which culminated in a paper that can be anywhere from 100 to 300 pages long. Complaining about classes and professors is part of being a college student, just do it respectfully. No matter whether you think she is the worst professor on campus or the best, she deserves the respect of being called doctor because she deserves the same respect as her peers, even if only because she put in the work. Call her doctor because she deserves respect.
This issue is persistent, most notably among freshman guys. While in high school most teachers probably did not have their doctoral degrees, but that is not the case here. Welcome to college: our professors are the best and the brightest. You can learn as much as you’d like while you attend here, but you sound ignorant, entitled, and old fashioned when you assume your professor doesn’t have her doctorate because she is a woman.
If you don’t know, call her professor and ask. If you do know and you are choosing to call her Mrs. anyway you are adding insult to injury by blatantly disrespecting her. If you assume it doesn’t matter, consider this your opportunity to educate yourself. Women in the United States weren’t allowed to be college professors until 1871 and a PhD wasn’t conferred on a woman in the United States until 1894 when Margaret Floy Washburn graduated from Cornell. This is how stereotypes about women’s role in the workforce are perpetuated.
Incorrectly addressing your professors is a slippery slope to degrading them in other ways, which is unfortunately just as prevalent. We’ve been conditioned to appreciate beauty, and that is okay as long as appreciating someone’s beauty doesn’t turn into crass, derogatory comments. Your professors aren’t your friends. Your professors aren’t your girlfriend. They are here to impart knowledge in us, the students. We all have professors we’re close too and a lot of them take the role of college moms and dads, but just like you’d never call your mom by her first name or call her a babe, you should have the same respect for your professors as people. Women in academia have overcome enough hurdles without having to remind their students that they are learned, intelligent individuals with doctorates or any other title they worked hard to earn.