This morning I participated in an informal meeting with other professors and some graduate students in my department. The purpose of the meeting was to give advice to one of the graduate students, who was puzzled about some data and wanted to discuss possible interpretations. There were 4 Female Science Professors and 1 Male Science Professor at the meeting. The discussion was interesting, but after a while I realized that the student was calling us FSPs by our first names and the MSP (with whom she works much more closely than any of us FSPs) as "Dr. X". This MSP is quite happy to be addressed by his first name by students, but for some reason this student, who has been in the graduate program here for several years, wasn't comfortable calling him by his first name.
It is a classic phenomenon, and I have several FSP colleagues who complain about it because they feel that it means that students don't respect them as much as they do the MSPs. That may well be, but informality in form of address doesn't necessarily mean lack of respect. In the situation this morning, the student was interested in comments and advice from all of us, and has sought me out in the past for additional discussions about research topics. I do not feel disrespected and certainly don't want to be called Dr. FSP by students in my department. What I do want is for this student (and others) to get over their awe of tall MSPs with gray hair and beards.
2 months ago