Shared Story: Apparently I’m not equal

When I walk around campus with a male colleague who is a music theorist, and we happen to pass a student we have both taught, roughly a third of the time that student greets us differently:  “Hi, Dr. X!  Hi, Mrs. Y!”  We are very similar in age, we are both tenured faculty members, and we have both taught at this school for more than ten years; the only significant difference is that he’s a man and I’m a woman.

There is a similar pattern when I and a male colleague are addressed in the same e-mail by a student (or when a student sends otherwise identical e-mail to multiple people).  The greeting routinely says “Dear Dr. X and Mrs. Y” (or sometimes even calls me by my first name).

I’m sure the students don’t mean to offend me, but I’m equally sure that they must perceive me as not quite equal to my male colleagues.  It’s really hard to explain this recurring pattern in any other way.

(Submitted June 4, 2015)