Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Open Door Policy

Isn't it time for another poll? I think it is time for another poll. What I would like to know in today's poll is this:

Do you, my faculty readers, have any particular policies or preferences re. having your office door open or closed when meeting with students? For example:
  • no policy (door can be open or closed, it doesn't matter),
  • door always open when meeting with students (because.. why?),
  • door always open when meeting with students of a particular gender (presumably different from yours),
  • door always closed (e.g. to allow uninterrupted conversation)
  • other
Non-academics can answer, too, using whatever scenario is most realistic for your own situation.

And you, my student readers, I wonder whether:
  • you prefer that the office door be open or closed when meeting with a professor,
  • the gender of the professor matters in your preference re. the door,
  • you have a particular preference depending on other characteristics of the professor (e.g., you are fine with a closed door for visits to certain professor offices but want the door open for visits to others),
  • it bothers you if a professor has a different policy for female vs. male students,
  • you even notice and/or care whether a professor has a policy about door position with respect to student visitors
I don't have a policy. My office door is often open just because I prefer it that way. This of course results in lots of interruptions and even interruptions of interruptions, but I still prefer an open door.

When I was a grad student, most professors kept their doors closed. I wish some of them had had an open door policy when meeting with students. Even when I felt nervous about meeting alone with a particular professor, I never asked him if the door could stay open. Instead, I would tell one or more of my friends where I was going and ask them to knock on that professor's door after 5-10 minutes. This system worked quite well. This anecdote leads me to my final question of the day:
  • Would you/did you ever ask someone if the door could stay open while you met in that person's office?


Anonymous said...

When I meet with my advisor (opposite gender), the norm is for the door to be open because that is the usual status of his door. However, if we are discussing something of a more sensitive nature- scientifically or personally- then the door is closed. In general, it seems that the way I meet with faculty varies with the "normal" status of their door. I suppose I would only like to keep the door open if I was meeting with a particularly creepy faculty member. Luckily all of the creepy faculty members I've ever had to meet with keep their doors open as a general rule. That said, I have often been surprised how many male faculty members, in both undergrad and grad school, seem to have no problem with meeting with female students with the door closed (even when there does not appear to be any kind of sketchy intent). It seems to me that if I was in the position of power, I would always leave the door open to reduce the possibility of false accusations.

Mario Pineda-Krch said...

Door always open when meeting with students and discussing course material because it encourages other students to listen in and get involved in the question/discussion. Door closed if student needs to discuss personal matters (absences, grades, ...).

Anonymous said...

hmm as a female grad student, I have NEVER really thought about this. Certainly, I have never found myself in situations where I would have wanted the door open, it has never crossed my mind.

Interestingly, in my current position, my PI, and al PIs in my building, have glass walled offices, making the door open/closed a moot point

barbara said...

I keep the door always closed. My voice is too loud anyway. As a student, I never felt the need for an open door. My voice was too loud even then.
Bonus info: I have been considered unattractive through most of my adult life (luckily not by my husband!).

Klaas said...

I always leave my door open so people can see I'm working (or goofing off occasionally). My colleagues mostly have their doors shut, which makes you wonder if they are doing something untowards. I have discovered that some do: I caught a professor looking at a photography materials website and when I walked in unexpectedly, he quickly minimised his browser as if it was porn... Makes you wonder what they are all doing behind their closed office doors. Keeping the door shut when meeting with students his highly inappropriate I would think.

jvk said...

I always have my door open all the time, regardless of whether I'm meeting with students. When the door is open, I found that my colleagues are much more inclined to keep me in the loop about their research. It's like water-cooler conversation, only I have a comfy chair and I can pretend I'm busy when I'm not ready to talk.

As someone whose academic formation took place in Europe (where they don't have an explicit door policy), I would like to see some discussion about this. I always liked visiting professors whose door was open, if only for the fact that they seemed less intimidating that way. When I came to the US, I was informed about open-door policies and I implemented them without much further thought. Does this often pose a problem?

zed said...

I never close the door completely, but will close it almost all the way if it's a conversation I'd rather keep private. Like if it's a heart-to-heart about career directions, as opposed to just talking about data or a paper.

Ms.PhD said...

I've never felt unsafe with a professor to the extent that I needed the door to stay open. However, I have at times checked to make sure there were other people around who would hear if I had to defend myself with violence.

Generally I've found that "door-closed" equates with "unprofessional gossip" or "unprofessional feedback". But I don't think having the door open would help in those cases. I have shut down the unprofessional gossip on at least one occasion. The unprofessional feedback- there is no good way out of that. It's a lose-lose situation.

Anonymous said...

As both a faculty member (at one institution) and a student (at another), I vote for the door to be about 75% shut in either role. This "setting" has the advantages of an open door (approachability and minimizing risk of harassment or feeling of risk for harassment) and of a closed door (signal that we are busy, so please minimize interruptions, a reasonable amount of privacy for conversations, fewer distractions from hallway events).

Hope said...

As a student (woman in a very male-dominated field), I generally have no preference, unless there are other issues involved (e.g., body odor issues, room temperature). I’ve noticed that there is no uniform policy in my dept. My advisor tends to sit in his office with the door almost closed, but he’ll open it when meeting with students. I have sometimes wondered why.... He opens the door irrespective of whether the student is male or female – it would bother me if he only did it with females. On a few occasions, when the topic warrants it, we have had closed-door discussions. And in answer to your final question: honestly, I don’t see myself asking a prof who usually leaves the door closed during meetings to open it with me. But thankfully, I’ve never felt the need to do this.

Christie Rowe said...

I close the door briefly during meetings with students to discuss sensitive topics - then I open it again. Young faculty who have friendly relationships with students are always at risk for department gossip so I think open door always is the safest policy

muddled postdoc said...

And you, my student readers, I wonder whether:

* you prefer that the office door be open or closed when meeting with a professor, --- No preference. My current PhD supervisor tends to keep his door open regardless of whether he is meeting with a student or not.
* the gender of the professor matters in your preference re. the door, --- It doesn't matter either way (I am female and 90% of the professors I deal with are male)
* you have a particular preference depending on other characteristics of the professor (e.g., you are fine with a closed door for visits to certain professor offices but want the door open for visits to others), --- So far I haven't come across anyone who I has any characteristics which would warrant a choice of open/closed door. Only time I can think of a closed door is for those who are a little loud as I would rather not have their neighbors and nearby labs know what was being said.
* it bothers you if a professor has a different policy for female vs. male students, --- It would bother me as I haven't so far come across any gender based differentiation expressed by the professors (TAs yes but not the professors that I know). But if someone had separate policies based on gender it would bother me and I would like to know why etc.
* you even notice and/or care whether a professor has a policy about door position with respect to student visitors - No

hkukbilingualidiot said...

I'm a student. I actually prefer doors closed when talking to professors as I get easily distracted. However, ever since being sexually harassed in industry, if I had to deal with a new male faculty I would rather that the door is left open until a form of trust is forged...which takes a few months. I also had bad experience of supervisor sabotage so I often withhold data sets until I've almost finished analysing, prefering to share it in public unless I trust my superior...which may or may not affect my preference to open door

Anonymous said...

I am sorry...this is such a boring poll topic. Can't we have a better one, FSP? I don't seem to enjoy anything other than controversy.

For the record, being young and male, I keep the door open when meeting female students. As for male students, I really don't think I have a policy.

As a thumb rule, I keep the door closed when I am working and I keep the door open when I am goofing off (like right now).

zobeide said...

Well, it depends on what we're discussing. If it's just research ideas I tend to keep the door open. If it becomes something more private then I shut the door.

dot said...

My door has three modes: fully open, half open, closed. I use those to signal others how (un)welcome they are to interrupt.

The door is usually half open when I meet with students, unless there is some noise in the corridor or if we discuss exam content (or private matter, which I don't remember happening).

I never thought about adapting the door policy to the gender of my interlocutor, but I guess I should. My previous office had a window to the corridor (with curtains, but I left them open), so I guess it solved the problem (yet again, I guess someone could equally be afraid of verbal assault as physical one?)

Anonymous said...

I am a student and whenever I have meetings with my supervisors the door is open. They both generally have their doors open (and have open door policy). Normally I don't mind that the door is open, and short interruptions to meetings are ok, I think, but sometimes I would prefer to have the door closed so that not everyone hears what is said. However I do not request the door to be closed in those cases.

I think it makes life easy when supervisors have a open door policy, but if they didn't I suppose I would just work around it. Key is good supervision (i.e. good quality meetings) rather than whether there is a open door policy or not.

Janka said...

I prefer to have the door closed when talking to my advisor, so that we can do it in private. Not that I have anything to hide as such, but knowing people will hear in the neighboring rooms would make me unnecessarily self-conscious.

No, gender has nothing whatsoever to do with it and I am frankly surprised that you ask about that. Must be a cultural thing.

Jamie Bougher said...

Responding as a female just-out-of-undergrad student:

- I prefer the door be open. It only needs to be cracked a little bit to qualify (as a former resident assistant, I appreciate the sound-reduction qualities a door can have).
- I've never met with a female professor (and never had one in my field), so I can't say one way or the other whether gender matters on the open door policy. I'd imagine it does, though. The last thing I need is anyone claiming I'm trading sex for my grades.
- If a professor had a different policy for male vs. female students I think that would bother me, but I've never noticed such a thing so can't say for sure.
- I do notice how professors use their doors, and I greatly prefer the open door policy. Knocking feels intrusive, and office hours are rarely convenient.
- I have never asked someone to leave the door open. I have had a professor close the door so we could discuss names (for senior exit interviews, where you were supposed to discuss your favorite and least favorite profs, classes, etc.) but the interpersonal distance remained great so I was not uncomfortable. However, I have no idea what I would have done had that not been the case. This particular professor was rather intimidating.

Anonymous said...

I am a female grad student; all the professors I work with are men.

I have no particular preference, although usually professors I meet with leave the door open unless I ask to close it or we are discussing something confidential.

It would bother me *a*lot* if I noticed that a professor treated female and male students differently in this regard.

ChemProf said...

For the sake of the student's privacy, if we are discussing performance on an exam or sililar, I will close the door, but mostly the door stay open. My office is small and cramped anyway.

sarcozona said...

I always prefer that the door remain open when I'm meeting with a professor, but I feel much more strongly about leaving the door open if it's a male professor. If a professor tries to close the door, I'll ask him to leave it open and on one occasion when the timing of the conversation didn't allow that to happen, I got up and opened the door myself.

I think if a professor questioned me about it, I would feel uncomfortable and probably tell him that I'm claustrophobic instead of being cautious.

adagger said...

I'm a first-year grad student, and I don't usually have a preference as to door position in that kind of situation. I've had professors who leave the door open and ones who close it and I am generally fine with either (unless, for example, there's a lot of noise coming from the hallway or something). One professor who usually had an open-door policy asked if I would like the door closed when I needed to discuss how an illness was going to affect my performance in his course, which I appreciated.

There was one professor I might not have been happy about meeting behind closed doors, but that is partly because of his actual policy, which was apparently that I wasn't allowed in his office. So I would show up to office hours with a homework question, wait in the hall while another (male) student finished his question, and get schlepped out to a conference room (presumably so I would have no grounds for accusing him of sexual harassment? I don't actually know what the reason was.) That always struck me as strange.

a physicist said...

Policy: my door is almost always open when I am in the office, and almost always remains open when I talk with students. Exceptions: occasionally a student comes in my office and wants to shut the door; I'm OK with this. Occasionally I need to discuss something highly sensitive with a student and then I will shut the door. Highly sensitive = they are failing; they are leaving the PhD program; or I am discussing an honor code violation. Gender is irrelevant to these considerations, and despite giving these counter-examples the bottom line is that 99% of the time my door is open.

I've never requested that a door stay open in someone else's office, although sometimes I've requested that the door be closed: pretty much for the same sorts of reasons as above.

Sometimes if I'm discussing controversial topics with another faculty member then the door will be closed. Controversial topics might be: other faculty members who annoy us; decisions of administrators that we disagree with.

Kristin said...

I always leave my door open, as do most of the professors at my school. Occasionally a student will want a more private conversation with me (if they need to tell me about personal issues, say, or if they are complaining about another faculty member) and will ask if they can shut my door, which is fine - I'll do whatever makes the student more comfortable.

FWIW, I'm also an FSP, but at a small state college.

Anonymous said...

As a female assistant professor, I:

leave the door open when meeting with graduate students about research results, their TA responsibilities.

close the door when expressing disatisfaction with graduate student progress or grilling them on fundamental topics (me beating up on them is demoralizing enough; no reason to make others in the department know).

leave the door open when meeting with undergraduates from my class unless I am discussing cheating or reasons for students missing classes (I consider those personal matters)

Anonymous said...

* door always open when meeting with students (because.. why?),

I'm a female full professor of physics and this is my scenario, for the most part. My office has no window and the door is solid, so I don't like being closed in (too closet-like and claustrophobia inducing). If it's my student with questions about my class, then the door stays open.

However, I'm also a department chair, and some conversations with students are behind a closed door at their request.

I don't remember being in uncomfortable situations as a student, but I also think that all the office doors at my graduate school had big windows in the doors.

Anonymous said...

I keep my door open, partly because that's what everyone else here does, but mostly because there's no reason not to. Having said that, there were a few occasions where I had a female student in my office and I closed the door because of noise in the hallway. But I got the distinct impression that that made them uncomfortable (though they didn't say anything), so I stopped doing it.

Alyssa said...

As a student, I didn't really notice if the prof preferred the door open or closed. Some doors open right into a busy hallway, so it made sense that their door was closed. Others didn't, and those tend to keep their door open.

I've never asked a prof if the door could be kept open, but I don't remember ever being uncomfortable in that situation either (and door closed happened much less than door open).

I have asked if I could close the door if I wanted to talk to them about something confidential.

Interesting topic though - I'd like to hear what others say.

Natalie said...

I share my office (I'm an adjunct) so I always leave my door open in case someone wants to see the other people in my office.

Anonymous said...

Hmm... as a female student my experience was quite different in undergrad than in grad school.

In undergrad, professors doors were always left open during meetings with students, no matter what. I think it was the policy of the school. As it was an undergrad-only institution, I think this was a safety/liability issue.

In grad school, I often meet with my adviser and other professors with the doors closed, though default is open. The door gets closed if there are a lot of people around and it's noisy, or if we're discussing something confidential (for example, my adviser sometimes wants our frank opinions relating to situations/persons in the lab).

Thankfully there's no one that I meet with in my grad. instutution where I would feel uncomfortable with the door closed. In such a situation, I might suggest that we meet in a public place like a coffee shop instead of in his/her office... Of course that suggestion might not be accepted.

PhDamned said...

I've never asked anyone to open or close their door.

At my undergrad institution (SLAC) doors were ALWAYS open. It definitely made the professors seem much more approachable and accessible. At my current (PhD) institution (MRU), doors are seldom open. I am the opposite gender of my advisor and he never leaves the door open, but his policy is the same for everyone. The only professors whose doors are always open are the only four female faculty members and one male faculty member. This is out of a 20-faculty department.

I don't really have a preference on whether the door is open or closed during the meeting. However, I do think it sends a nice message of accessibility and approachability when a professor leaves their door open for the majority of the day. Although, I can imagine that this would be distracting to the professor, especially because students may be more inclined to just pop in.

biochem belle said...

As a student, door open vs. door closed with my PhD adviser had more to do with the content of the discussion: door open for most meetings, door closed (or Saturday meeting) for 'sensitive' topics when you didn't want someone taking things out of context and running with them. The latter generally occurred when he wanted an honest opinion of something going on in the lab, an assessment of someone's capabilities for taking over a project, or discussion of a personal matter that had the potential of affecting one's work.

There was only one professor in my undergrad days that I would not dare have a closed door meeting with-because as a woman, you felt as though you were being mentally undressed in his presence. As an aside, he is no longer employed there.

I generally don't have a preference to open vs. closed door policies as a student/postdoc, but I would probably be bothered if a professor had different policies depending on gender of the student.

rallain said...

I keep my office door open. If I leave it closed, it gets all stuffy in there. Also, I have no window. With the door closed I feel like a hermit.

I don't mind people coming in and asking questions and stuff. The only reason I ever close the door is when having a sensitive discussion with other faculty.

Anonymous said...

I have a "no policy": it doesn't matter.

I don't see the benefit of keeping the door open. If the prof is a creep he'll make a move anyhow. It won't stop the inappropriate behavior, it will simply change its delivery.

We need to fight the cause (creepy professors) not doors.

The Geek In Question said...

- I would request to keep the door closed only if I wanted to discuss something of a private/personal nature...otherwise I would go with whatever the prof wanted
- the gender of the prof wouldn't matter to me either way (I am female, fwiw)
- the only circumstance I can think of that would otherwise make me ask to keep the door open is if the prof had a major creep/ick factor going on and I was nervous about him/her...but if that was the case I'd probably do everything I could to avoid being in a situation to speak with him/her in the first place.
- yes it would bother me if there was a different policy for male/female students because it would mean one of two assumptions are being made: a) the prof might be inclined to harass a student of a particular gender or b)the student might be inclined to cry "assault" at the slightest provocation. Both assumptions are obnoxious and demeaning to both parties IMO.
- I personally have never seen an individual prof's door policy explicitly stated/written anywhere...my general practice when entering or leaving a prof or colleague's office is to simply ask if they have a preference to keep the door open or closed - or to make the request myself if I have a preference.

plam said...

My door is always open because I had to open the door to get into my office, and I leave it that way until I leave my office.

DrDoyenne said...

Door closed when meeting with subordinates--for privacy and to discourage interruptions. But I have no office hours--people feel free to knock on my door anytime.

Prefer door closed when meeting with superiors.

If someone asked to have the door open, I would comply. But that has never occurred.

Jesper said...

The obvious place for a student to sit in my office is close to the door, so I let the student decide whether to close the door or not before sitting down. Personally I prefer to have the door closed, but I can live with having it open if a student is more comfortable that way.

Jenn said...

I had a professor (as an undergrad) I would've asked to keep the door open had I ever gone to see him again. We had an intensely creepy meeting where he stood between me and the open door and ranted about how he should have access to everyone's medical/metal health records so he could know which of his students were crazy ahead of time, and handed me tissues occasionally (his rant was actually really upsetting to me--I was crying). However, I chose to never, ever be alone with him again instead.

John Vidale said...

Too many rules confuse me, and would leave me less accessible (bad). I always leave my door open unless:

1. I'm on a call that would suffer from outside noise, usually those are conference calls,
2. A visitor closes the door,
3. I close it for security, in the case I've glimpsed someone sketchy in the area and the building is deserted, which is very rare.

Anonymous said...

My advisor has a secretary who sits just outside his door and whom I trust, and so my general preference is to have the door to his inner office open (she can hear things, so I'm unlikely to get unprofessional feedback) but all the doors around her office closed (nobody else can hear what I or he is saying.). It's a win-win situation for me. I didn't like his former secretary, though, as I know she would gossip, and so was really uncomfortable with the situation.

thoughtcounts Z said...

Physics grad student here.

In general, I think that I generally prefer that doors be open when I am meeting with professors. This is basically because it would seem ominous and creepy for a professor to walk over from her/his desk and close the door and then return to said desk to talk. I think it would be equally ominous regardless of professor gender -- it would just seem like they have something truly terrible to tell me (you're being kicked out of the program, or the like). I don't really know, though, because this has never happened to me. Most of the professors around here operate on a policy of leaving their doors open (at least a crack) if it is okay to interrupt them, and closing their doors if they are not there or are not to be interrupted (even by their most beloved students). The only time I could imagine a professor closing a door while talking to me is if I requested it -- for example, if I was coming to my advisor with some sensitive question about research group dynamics, and didn't want other people I might be talking about to overhear what I was saying. I guess I can also imagine professors with cluttered offices going to rummage for something behind their door, and having it fall closed and not feeling like it was important to open it again. No warning bells there.

On the other hand, f I noticed that a professor had a policy of always closing the door for a certain gender of students: major red flag. There is no reason to do that besides serious sketchiness.

FSGrad said...

My (older male) advisor leaves his door open unless the noise level in the hall is unbearable, and although this means interruptions, the interruptions frequently actually get us back on track (advisor tends to ramble if left unchecked). On the other hand, the prof I teach for (young male) has a strict open-door policy with students (grad or undergrad). Given some of the stories he's told me about being harassed by grade-fishing students, I understand that one, even though it leads to an obscene number of interruptions that prevent him from getting anything done all day. I prefer the door open myself, mostly because shutting it cuts me off from all social interactions.

Kim said...

My office is small and doesn't have a window, so I leave the door open at all times unless a discussion needs to be private. (That means that students feel comfortable interrupting me at any time, but I'm more productive with interruptions than I would be if I felt trapped in the windowless office.)

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that some people here see it as a red flag if a prof has one door policy for females and another for males. A million years ago, when I came to the United States from my native India (I know FSP hates me already), we had to sit through an orientation session for incoming international TAs.

The woman (yes...woman...take that!) who was running the TA orientation told us clearly that we should be careful around female students BECAUSE WE ARE YOUNG AND MALE. Yes.. those were her exact words... YOUNG AND MALE.

If I were as much of a genius as the average feminist, I should have filed a gender discrimination lawsuit right there. But, the person who was telling us as much seemed to be a NICE person, who seemed genuinely interested in helping.

The advice stayed with me throughout my grad years and after that. BE CAREFUL around female students. But the feminists are not done yet. Now its wrong to even be careful about not breaking the law.

In my native tongue of Bengali... we have a proverb that may be transliterated as:

"Aashte karat, jete karaat, ekei bole saankher karat".

With a considerable loss of linguistic flavour, this may be rendered as "Damned if you do, damned if you don't".

That's it: I have done it all....foreigner, feminist basher, foreign language (Bengali), foreign diction in English ("flavour")

Don't be too angry FSP...just pulling your leg :) Cheers!

Anonymous said...

My graduate advisor had the attention span of a gnat--on the rare occasions I was actually able to meet with her to discuss my thesis, she would look up and greet every person who strolled by her office. If it was a dean or a professor, she'd schmooze for twenty minutes. So I started pulling the door half-closed behind me whenever I went into her office, just enough to block the view to the hallway. And it worked! Until her phone rang.

Anonymous said...

As a female student, I'd say I generally prefer closed-door, so you can have an uninterrupted conversation. All of my advisors/chairs/etc have been male, and I have often needed to discuss things others shouldn't hear (not for shady reasons, but to provide honest feedback).

It's nice to have the door closed, so no matter which direction the conversation turns, it doesn't look like something's being hidden if it suddenly gets closed.

But then, I haven't had any "creepy" professors. If I had, I could see myself asking to keep the door open, or if I didn't want to ask then, I'd be fully prepared to bust out (loudly) with my objections should anything questionable happen.

studyzone said...

I am a female postdoc. My grad and post-doc advisors (both male) keep their office doors open most of the time anyway, and for general chit-chat or questions, the door stayed open. They closed the door for sensitive talks (personal/research) or when external conditions were too noisy (both offices are in high-traffic areas). As a student/postdoc, I have always felt comfortable with my advisors, so having a closed door didn't bother me. However, as I will soon be embarking on a career at a PUI, I do plan to keep my door open (or slightly ajar for more sensitive talks) whenever meeting with an undergrad - for the protection of both of us.

HGGirl said...

Closed, with an unobscured window is what I prefer as a female student working with mostly male PIs. The closed door prevents most interruptions, but the window keeps things from being creepy, and allows for more important interruptions.

CrankyMathGuy said...

My door open when meeting with students, regardless of their gender. If a sensitive topic is to be discussed, then I put the stop in the door to keep in 2cm open.

The logic has little to do with gender; it has to do with the fact that I teach math. Many students are hesitant to visit the math prof with questions, so I want to be as non-threatening as possible. Leaving the door open offers a visible "escape route". In more sensitive situations (crying students, etc.), the 2cm gap seems to leave them with the sense of not being trapped, while giving them the privacy they deserve. In keeping with this logic, I also arrange the furniture in my office to be non-threatening.

Anonymous said...

At my university, we have no choice: university policy states that all doors must be open when meeting with students.

Anonymous said...

I prefer to leave the door open when meeting with students. The students seem more at ease as I do. I have been lucky not to have had too many sensitive nature conversations.

As a grad student I had 2 advisors, one always left the door open, the other usually closed (both advisors were male, I am female). I would bring a timer with me to the advisor with the door closed and I would set it for the amount of time I thought was resonable for that particular meeting. Early on as a grad student I realized meetings can go on way too long with some people.

The advisor who left the door open actually use to have the door closed when meeting with students. Unfortuantely he got a reputation of "dating" some of his students, which his wife found out (now ex). I am not sure how true this was, but it changed the way he handled himself.

Kevin said...

My office door is open any time I'm in the office, unless someone requests closing it for a private discussion. Since I am often the grad director, with students offering all sorts of medical reasons why they are falling behind, I do get requests to close the door fairly often.

I also get requests to close the door when my department chair comes by to talk, often about non-confidential matters. This bothers me a bit, since it makes it more difficult for people who have a real reason to talk to me to interrupt.

My policy might be different if my office were on a noisy hallway.

Anonymous said...

My advisor has an office the adjoins the grad student office. There's one door to them and one to the hall, both almost always at least partially open. I deliberately avoid talking to him about somewhat personal topics in his office, because it would seem awkward to get up and shut both doors, but I feel self-conscious with the rest of the lab able to listen in. Luckily, I'm usually able to catch him other places without others around.

yolio said...

I'll take the female student angle. In general, I don't really care much if the door is open or closed. If someone is dumb enough to behave badly, then the door isn't likely to stop them. I have had professors attempt to hit on me IN THE CLASSROOM in front of everyone. Idiotic behavior like that is not easily dissuaded. And there are lots of other factors, like what is on the other side of that door? A loud hallway? A difficult colleague that you need advice on how to deal with? There are factors, and we ought to be flexible.

It does, however, bother me if there is a separate policy for males and females. Actually, it bothers me a lot. The implication is that a male can't interact with a female without it being a sexually charged situation. I take great offense at this.

PUI prof said...

My door is open most of the time, even when meeting with crying students. However, the hallway is very cold, so in the winter I close it mostly or close it completely and put a sign that people are WELCOME to knock.
This semester I have been hammered, so I have closed my door to hide from the "chatters".

Sometimes it works.

Dr Spouse said...

Always closed unless the hallway is a more acceptable temperature than my office. My office is right next to the administration offices and students are usually hanging about in the hallway, and my next door neighbour professor has obviously read that you are not supposed to close the door when meeting with students or colleagues, and has a very loud voice.

Anonymous said...

I'm a female graduate student in a field where most of the professors (especially in our department) are male. My advisor generally comes into the open class-room-like area where his students' desks are to talk about research ideas, etc., so that other students can join the discussion. If he or one of his students wants to discuss something more private (grades, etc.), he invites them into his office and closes the door. He sits behind his desk, and has a couch across the room from him where the student sits. Same policy for undergrads. Sometimes, students will go into his office and leave the door open, so they can still be heard, but aren't directly bothering anyone working in the grad-student-den.

As a GSI, I was told by the department to NEVER fully close the office door when speaking with a student. For private matters, close the door most of the way and keep voices down. Also, never sit between the door and the student, lest they feel "trapped".

Generally when I've met with other professors in our department (male and female), they sit away from the door, I'm closest to the door, but the door is closed.

I don't think there should be different policies for female vs male students, as such policies often assume everyone in the room is heterosexual. Better to have the same policy regardless.

Pagan Topologist said...

I close the door when it is too loud in the hallway, which happens sometimes when students are waiting for another professor on the same corridor. Otherwise, I tend to keep it open unless the student requests privacy for some reason.

Kate said...

I'm a female grad student. I've never had to meet with someone so creepy that I felt the need for an open door, and don't remember who had what door status at my undergrad institution. At my current school the default seems to be doors closed for most professors. This is the default for my (older, male) adviser and is how most of our meetings take place. I don't mind, it probably minimizes noise/interruptions.

I've never noticed whether anyone I've had to meet with had separate policies for male vs. female students. I don't know whether such a policy would bother me.

The only scenario where I have a real preference is during office hours, in which case doors open is best. I found it helpful to be able to wander in and hear other students' questions, rather than hovering in the hallway wondering whether to wait (and for how long?), or knock on the door and let the prof know I was there, or...?

Anonymous said...

I had a student come in, and locked the door behind him! Now, that's scary!

Anonymous said...

As a female student in a mainly male department it often annoys me that facult will leave the door open when talking to me but not to the male students. This means my meetings, particularly those with my supervisor are constantly interrupted.

It's made worse by the fact that most people close their doors most of the time in my department. The code is "door closed" - I'm working or in an important meeting, "door open" - please drop by to chat.

This is one small issue but it is part of a larger concern for me. That is that the faculty I am working with are not as comfortable with me as they are with the male students.

Anonymous said...

I just want to speak up that it wouldn't bother me personally if the same policy didn't apply to both - but I do think that if you feel the need for a policy of keeping the door open - you probably should for everyone (after all - the student being of the same sex is certainly no prevention of an accusation of improper behavior)

JaneB said...

Door open, partly because I prefer my door to be open most of the time (I think a closed door can be quite a barrier to even the most motivated student. Also, it means that when I DO shut my door it sends out a very clear 'not there' signal (even if I am there physically but mentally off with my science)). To some extent this might reflect my training, at an old university in the UK where 'sporting the oak' (shutting the outer door of your room or office) was universally read as 'go away', and that's a message I don't want to give students or colleagues unless I really mean it. I will shut the door if a student is really distressed or requests it, but I'm not completely comfortable with it. In addition, my university strongly advises that doors be left slightly ajar when seeing any student on a one-to-one basis, after a couple of sexual harrassment claim thingies.

Also, my view may be affected by my, um, chronic interest syndrome (sounds better than nosiness) - I like to know what's going on. And my office is too box-like to be completely comfortable with the door shut...

OverEngineered said...

I prefer the door to be open when I meet with professors. I think what I actually don't like is when a professor gets up and closes the door behind me (worst when it's in the middle of a conversation). I came in the room, I left the door how I wanted it, it's a subtle reminder that the prof is in charge and I have to do what they want. I have had a prof stop me and say "Sorry, would you mind if I closed the door? The hall just got noisy." I have no problem at all with that and in fact was very impressed that the prof thought to ask if I minded (and explained why the door should be closed).

butterflywings said...

Hmm. In my workplace, it is somewhat different to a university: you *cannot* find a private place to talk i.e. with closed doors unless you actually book a meeting room. It is all modern and open plan.
This drives me insane. Just from a distraction point of view.
People do not realise their voice carries.
As for trying to have a private discussion e.g. performance review, forget it - you can move away from your work area but nowhere private.
If I had doubts about being alone with a male coworker, I just...wouldn't go anywhere alone with them. I would be grateful for the lack of privacy if I had to be, though; sleazy guys probably won't try anything if someone can walk by any second.

Anonymous said...

I prefer to have the door open during one-on-one meetings regardless of genders, unless we are discussing topics of a personal or sensitive nature (such as if an employee or trainee is having personal problems that are interfering with their ability to do their work, or if they feel the need to air their negative opinions about other people). For such highly sensitive discussions I will close the door so that we can talk more freely without fear of others eavesdropping or interruptions. it's important for colleagues and trainees to be able to vent their frustrations and speak honestly to you and sometimes an open door with people passing by outside or waiting to come in to talk to you, makes them feel too guarded to be honest.

Aside from discussion of such serious nature, an open door during meetings shows you have nothing to hide, and that you are not doing anything illegal or inappropriate! it also makes other people see you as being more cooperative and involved because of your availability. that said, my own PhD advisor always kept his office door open yet would glare at your with silent hostility if you had the gall to actually knock and want to talk to him!

Anonymous said...

I always have my door open except right now when the building's heat is not working and my office is freezing cold. I've brought a space heater to warm up my office. closing the door is the only way to keep the heat in.

Harvestar said...

I never really cared one way or another about open doors. Mostly it was about whether the situation was sensitive or not and whether there might be interruptions (loudness in the hallway or such).

However, my female advisor (as am I) had gone to some seminar and then made a point of not closing the door all the way. Apparently in that seminar, they emphasized that you should never have an entirely closed door when meeting with a student.

Anonymous said...

As a female graduate student who has suffered from sexual harassment and verbal abuse under a male PI, I have been traumatized by the whole experience and prefer the door open whenever I enter anyone's office (male or female).

thoughtcounts Z said...

In reply to Anonymous at 9:37 AM: First of all I have no idea why you assume FSP won't like an Indian commenter. Relax!

Since you picked up the term "red flag" and I was the only other person to use it in this thread, I'll try to explain a bit more of what I meant. I think your anecdote about your TA orientation is right in line with the kind of thing I'm talking about.

If you have a policy of closing the door with students of one gender and leaving the door open with the other, there are two possible interpretations. One is that you want "special private time" with the first set, and don't much care who sees you with the other set because you won't be doing anything ... "private." The other interpretation is that you're having a normal conversation with the first set, and that with the second set you want to make sure you don't accidentally do anything untoward so you leave the door open and allow the social mores of your corridor-mates to keep you in check. Both of these are creepy scenarios. I think the first one is creepy in a straightforward enough way, so I won't elaborate further, but let's talk about the second one. It's certainly preferable to the alternative -- closed door all the time, and who knows what may or may not end up happening with group 2. But if you adopt a policy like this, you are broadcasting: "I am afraid of losing control over my actions, and even I cannot trust myself. I need to be restrained with some sort of external check on my behavior."

And that's my problem with your TA orientation story. Not that the leader mentioned your gender. Hate to break it to you, but it is not gender discrimination to have it mentioned in conversation that you are male. Or to point out that most sexual harassment is in the male-to-female direction, so you should watch your behavior.

But the message you seem to have taken from your TA orientation is that men are somehow prone to losing control over themselves, and should take special precautions to stop themselves from assaulting female students. Of course, if that's really the case for you, then by all means do! But to normalize that expectation, as just one of the facts of life about men ... that is a sad thing for me. And to somehow set up the expectation as something which only applies for male instructors and female students is as unfortunate as it is inaccurate.

My bottom line: if you have a different door policy for men and women, and you do not intend to do anything illegal/unethical behind closed doors (that is, you fall into my second case, above), then you are effectively announcing your belief in your inability to control yourself. That is a scary thing on its own. You would be better off leaving the door open for everybody, and not calling attention to the fact that you feel you need special help in some cases. And it has the added benefit of demonstrating to everyone that you do not fall into the first case scenario.

Anonymous said...

I'm a female student and for both of my (male) advisors, the status of the door depends on the nature of the meeting. If it's a quick 5-10 min check-in the door usually stays open. For longer scientific discussion or manuscript editing, the door is closed to prevent distractions, and for personal issues, the door is closed for privacy. I let my advisors deal with the door, and sometimes the door status signals to me how long the meeting should be (usually for when I drop in unannounced). Sometimes my advisors have asked me to close the door if what we thought was a short meeting seems to be getting longer, or if a personal issue comes up. I've never found it inappropriate for the door to be closed even though my advisors are the opposite gender... it might offend me a bit if they had a different policy depending on gender, since that would bias the types of conversation I'd have with my advisors (i.e. I'd feel really uncomfortable discussing personal things if the admins or people in nearby offices could overhear...).

Hope said...

@Anon9:37 – Just in case your surprise is genuine: Yes, that TA who gave you the advice to be careful a million years ago was probably trying to help you. But life evolves over the course of a million years, and so should you. The problem with having a different “door policy” for men and women is that it is yet another reminder for the women, who are usually outnumbered in many science fields, of how they are different, of how they don’t fit in. Why not treat both genders the same? Why not have an open door policy for both? If professors held meetings with Indian students with the door open but closed them with everyone else, how would that make you feel? Would you think it right to treat people this way?

Anonymous said...

i have a double standard. I am a student so my opinion counts for little but I prefer my own door to be closed as much as possible (as do my office mates) because we all get distracted by people walking in the hallways (btw: i am female in a male dominated office and field). For the same reason, when I meet with a prof, I prefer the door to be closed. I've never felt uncomfortable sitting in a closed office with a professor, though I can see how it can happen if there is some inappropriate behaviour. At the same time, I prefer to go see professors whose doors are open because 1) I'm afraid i won't hear "come in" and 2) i'm afraid of interrupting.
I never realized how complicated my door preferences were until today.

Minos said...

Door *always* open. I'm a single male, young professor who has a friendly relationship with many students, both male and female. Unfortunately, because of the terrible history in my department, I live under constant suspicion of(and have been asked point blank about) sleeping with my students (needless to say, I have had zero interest in such...). While nothing compared to the gender discrimination my female colleagues have faced, I hope that my students-especially my female students (though the door stays open regardless of gender)-appreciate that it is not out of lack of concern for their privacy that I maintain this policy, but because of the cloud of suspicion under which I live. Unfortunately, given the situation, I see no other way to protect myself against the rumor mill.

I have, in my career had both male and female supervisors, and have felt very comfortable with the door closed in both. It's simply the atmosphere created by a bad legacy that creates this unfortunate situations in which my students frequently have less privacy than I would like.

quasarpulse said...

I don't generally prefer one way or another (as a student) when discussing questions of academic interest, unless I have an appointment and the professor is the type that tends to have numerous students descending upon his or her office at every opportunity.

But in the event I had to discuss either sensitive personal information or grade-related matters of the sort that required an office visit rather than a quick e-mail or after-class comment, I might ask if I could close the door.

I can't imagine any situation where I would ask for the door to stay open. If I had a professor who gave off a skeezy enough vibe that I felt I couldn't trust him/her alone with me in a professional setting, I wouldn't be able to trust him/her to provide competent instruction or evaluation either. I'd drop that class.

Anonymous said...

I close my door when I am taking a nap.

Anonymous said...

My door is always open when meeting with students. If it is a really personal discussion, I might ask them to close the door, but only if it is something sensitive like grades etc.

However, when I talk with other faculty members, we often do close the door for privacy.

I believe in having my door open as much as possible so that I am accessible to the students.

Anonymous said...

i am a female undergraduate

•you prefer that the office door be open or closed when meeting with a professor, = depends who it is. actually, sometimes i get happy when a prof. asks me to close the door because it means we will be talking about something meaningful and that he will become more personal and so we can have stronger ties. so, when a nice young professor asks me to close the door, i can't say i haven't smiled back.. though i don't want anything sexual, but to get inside his head a little bit.
•the gender of the professor matters in your preference re. the door, = no.
•you have a particular preference depending on other characteristics of the professor (e.g., you are fine with a closed door for visits to certain professor offices but want the door open for visits to others), = i actually feel uncomfortable with the door closed if the prof is a much older man. probably because i don't want to make a connection with them anyway. the opposite is true for young profs.
•it bothers you if a professor has a different policy for female vs. male students = no. doesn't matter to me.

•you even notice and/or care whether a professor has a policy about door position with respect to student visitors = no.

and no to the other last question. i would never ask to have the door open. that is rude and suggests something about the prof. if i don't feel comfortable in his office, then i would not go.

can you also provide an analysis of these poll results???

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that it is University policy here in Australia that the door must be kept open when meeting with a single student of the opposite gender (regardless of who is which gender).

amy said...

Very interesting topic! I almost always keep my door open, as do other people on my hallway. It makes it easier for students and colleagues to drop in. I only close my door when I'm writing, on an important phone call, or having a meeting about confidential things. I hadn't thought of asking a student if it's okay before I close the door, but I'll start doing that. A couple of times I've had large male students try to intimidate me into changing their grades, and at those times I've been very grateful that my door was already open, and that my colleagues' doors were also open.

Anonymous said...

@thoughtscount Z

First, if you do not know already that FSP does not like foreigners, I suggest you read some of her posts.

Anyway, I am really surprised at the way you think. You are accusing me of losing control? The person was holding an official TA orientation session in PUBLIC and she told us in front of everyone that we should be careful because we are young and male.

What if I were to tell a gathering of female students: You might find XXXX difficult because you are female. Would that count as discrimination in your book? Could
I justify such a statement by saying that most scientists ARE men...the way you pointed out that most sexual harassment has male perpetrators?

And yes, if a professor were to treat Indian students differently from other students, it would bother me. When did I say that it is fair to treat female students differently? This is not about whether my ways are fair, this is about whether you can rationally BLAME me for it? If you were told that you would be under constant scrutiny because of your gender, would you not do your best to stay safe? Surely, you do know that sexual harassment situations are handled on a guilty till proven innocent bases?

I don't WANT to treat female students differently. BUT I want my job to be secure a lot more. Is that so wrong?

If a female student were to feel alienated because of this, she is a victim of feminist absolutism, not of my unfairness. Blame them, not me.

Indians do not have a lynch mob operating in the administration, feminists do. If Indians acquire one, I would not mind if professors began to handle Indian students differently. More precisely, I would blame the Indian lynch mob, not the tiny professor who just wants to keep his job.

Anonymous said...

@thoughtcounts 5:39 Z

This is a different anon from 9:37

I agree in general with your point that you should probably have the same policy for all genders involved. After all who's to say everyone is heterosexual? I am also confused by 9:37's unbridled hostility...?

But you posit two interpretations of the male prof having a "closed for women open for men" policy and I don't think either is correct. 1) is that the prof thinks he can't control himself, and 2) is that the male prof is giving special privilege of privacy to male students. 2) is I think a consequence, not a cause of this discriminatory policy. 1) seems really off base. The truly creepy aren't going to worry about what other people think - they'll close the doors and get away with what they can.

I think you're missing the obvious 3) the prof thinks female students are more likely to perceive harrassment has occurred. The really crazy/vindictive ones might even make up a story about sexual harassment to avoid failing a course (yes there have been such students). If the door was ever closed for more than a minute or two, well, that's when it happened. That's what the TA for anon's course meant when she said "be careful around female students." A lot of male profs I know have been counseled to never have a couch in any office for the same reason.

It still makes more sense to have an "open for all" policy. After all what's to keep a male student someday from doing the same? BUT I think that your two points were definitely straw men when you compare them to the last.

Hope said...

Come off it, Annon9:37. In your rant you forgot to address one question: Why not have an open door policy for both genders? Doesn’t this solve your problem? (You can be fair and keep your job safe, too.) If not, what *is* your problem?

Anonymous said...

I'm a first-year grad student, so I both meet with professors and meet with my own students (I'm in a non-science field that's still very highly male-dominated). I keep my office door open during my office hours and closed the rest of the time, mostly (the TA officers are all along a very noisy corridor and mine happens to be right next to the kitchen/department hang-out, so it's very noisy). Luckily, sensitive matters are handled by the professor of the course. My advisor is male, and his officers are along a quiet corridor without much traffic. I've never gotten uncomfortable vibes off of him and he has a large office, so I usually leave the door open but if I had something more sensitive to discuss, I wouldn't be opposed to closing it. On the other hand, my department had a scandal last year involving a student and an older male professor who is now on leave (and who is now married to the student), and I occasionally see him around the department; he doesn't know who I am, but I know who he is, and I keep my distance. If I ever had to take a class with him and needed to meet him during office hours, you can bet I would make sure the door was open!

FrauTech said...

Wow. I'm so glad I've never thought about sexual harassment when meeting with opposite gender in closed offices. I consider myself extremely lucky.

As an undergrad, I prefer open. There's probably nothing I would need to discuss with that professor that all the professors/TAs/office support in that hallway couldn't overhear. Not to mention, it's nice to feel like the professor will welcome you in if you have a question.

In corp. america, closed door meetings are completely necessary with people in your chain of command. Normally cube dwellers have zero amount of privacy, so if I am discussing my title, my pay, my progress, my career progression, or even possibly new assignments I prefer to have the door closed. Usually the supervisor will say "Go ahead and close the door" when you walk in. That's how you know it's not just a project-related meeting. Otherwise open door is fine. I think the difference is an academia, if you are a student meeting with a professor you are generally not competing with any of the people in that hallway. Versus in corporate america, you're always competing with your coworkers. And information is power. And you definitely don't want them knowing something about you or your job that they don't have to. But otherwise for most project-related discussions, doors are kept open, unless it's multiple people and there's noise issues.

I've honestly never even thought about being uncomfortable behind a closed door with any of my mostly male colleagues (or not uncomfortable due to gender reasons anyways). That never crossed my mind. Luck, I guess.

ME said...

I keep the door open regardless of gender unless I have something private to discuss with the student or faculty member.

I sometimes have to close my door to block out the noise from open door meetings down the hall, but that's OK.

As a female faculty member I feel safer if the door is open, but generally I am not concerned. If I were, I would have someone else at the meeting.

Anonymous said...


Good point. Why not have an open door policy for both genders? In the first comment I wrote that I have an open door policy for women. For men, I don't have a policy. With a male student, I don't specifically close the door nor do I demand that it be kept open. The door stays in the position the student left it when coming in, unless there is too much noise in the hallway, or the student wants to discuss something sensitive and specifically asks to close the door.

Also, as a professor, I don't want to know much about the personal problems of students. I want to stick to my work. If a student wants to cry (the girls are honest enough to just cry while guys pretend they are "depressed") he/she should really seek out the student advisors and counsellors with new age fancy degrees the university has hired with so much ado. So one situation in which I keep the door WIDE open irrespective of gender is when I know that a student is feeling burdened by the course material and is getting emotional about the situation. An open door pre-empts any emotional talk.

Anonymous said...

Do universities in the US actually have policies regarding doors? That's funny, in an "americans really are insane" kind of way.

I'm a female PhD student. Normally I close the door myself if I have a scheduled meeting with someone, since it's hopeless to have an effective meeting when others are disturbing you, and I don't like to waste my time on ineffective meetings.

I would take for granted that it is self explanatory to everyone that you do not enter a room alone with someone that you believe will physically attack you. If you have to meet with such a person at all, you make sure that there are witnesses present in the meeting room or have the meeting in a public place with lots of people present.

I have never experienced (or even heard of) a situation where a professor physically attacked a student. I've met professors who are irritating, rude, bullying or just plain incompetent, but I have never experienced that leaving the door open makes any difference. Probably because someone that cares what others think of him/her will avoid behaving badly towards others to begin with.

If you want to have clear documentation of what someone is saying to you (for whatever reason), the most efficient way is to use a small tape recorder instead of pen and paper for your notes during the meeting.

Ali said...

I've never really considered if the professor keeps his/her door open during a meeting, although now that I think about it I suppose I'd prefer open door for talks about science of interest or problem sets, and closed door for academic advising. What really does affect me is whether or not a professor leaves their door open while just in the office. I read an open door as available and a closed door as unavailable/not there, so the professors who close their doors even when they're around and would like to talk to students confuse me.

Anonymous said...

anon 3:13 said:

"Good point. Why not have an open door policy for both genders? In the first comment I wrote that I have an open door policy for women. For men, I don't have a policy. With a male student, I don't specifically close the door nor do I demand that it be kept open. The door stays in the position the student left it when coming in, unless there is too much noise in the hallway, or the student wants to discuss something sensitive and specifically asks to close the door."

And that is why your policy is discriminatory! Males are allowed the opportunity to have private discussions with you with the doors closed, whereas females are not. Please change your policy so that either 1) ALL students males and females must have the door open at all times or 2) female students may also request to have the door closed if they wish to have a private discussion with you.

Kevin said...

"I have never experienced (or even heard of) a situation where a professor physically attacked a student."

Nor have I, but I was a student at Stanford when a math professor there was murdered in his office by one of his advisees. It might have colored my views on keeping my door open a little.

On the "official policy" front, ll I found in a quick search was
"Consider leaving the door open during office hours or meetings with students."

Anonymous said...

Door always open, mostly for my safety. I've had some bully students tower over me. If a student closes the door, I ask them to reopen it.

Kitty said...

Door open when I am meeting with students, unless we are talking about a personal matter that I think the student would want to keep private. I especially like the door open when meeting with students from my classes as those conversations can sometimes take unexpected turns. I once had a (male) student start to get very angry because I had "given" him another D on his paper. After he left, my colleague next door came over to say that she had heard everything he was saying and was ready to interrupt if he had gotten more belligerent.

Anonymous said...

I keep an open door policy - students sit between me and the door. If the noise in the hall appears to be distracting them, I offer them the opportunity to close the door as much as they they see fit. Interestingly, over the years, the only person to consistently shut the door to my office is one of my junior colleagues. For whatever reason, my office was the one to which she came to vent her frustration with others in the department, especially when we had a chair (female) whose mentorship style clashed with the mentorship needs of my junior colleague.

Years ago at an institution far, far away, I shared my huge office with a young male adjunct with whom I had become friends. (We are still best friends and now research colleagues decades later.) Unbeknownst to either of us at the time, the rumor around the department was that we were gay lovers. Ironically, I would never have offered to share my office with a young female adjunct, tongues would have wagged far too much. That's sad; who knows what professional relationships that prevented.

Anonymous said...

My advisor tends to leave the door about 75% closed at all times. This is fine, except for when you want to discuss something very private/sensitive because he never ever closes it and it opens onto a corridor where sound really carries and students from both his research group and others in the same field tend to wait around.

Most of the time, I don't mind (if we're discussing research at a scheduled meeting), but if I've come to talk to him specially it's usually something I don't want entering lab gossip. (He's around the lab enough that you can catch him easily for asking simple questions you don't mind being overheard.)

I understand why he leaves it open, but there are times (when we've been discussing health problems/ he's asked direct questions about bullying in the lab/ we're discussing career options) where I really would rather the conversation could not be overheard by other lab members.

LadyScientist said...

Student reader here.

For a typical discussion, I don't care if the door is open or closed. However, if I'm discussing personal matters or recieving highly negative feedback, I prefer the door be closed.

The gender of the professor doesn't matter, but the creepiness factor would matter alot (i.e. I would prefer an open door with a creepy prof).

It would bother me if a prof had a different policy for female and male students.

I've never noticed whether a professor has a policy about door position with respect to student visitors.

In fact, I hadn't thought much about it except when I've closed the door for the reasons mentioned above.

Lab Rat said...

I'm a student, and I tend to prefer the door pulled too during meetings, just so that my entire scientific plans and woes aren't broadcast to the entire lab. To be honest, this had never occured to me as an issue (I am female, for the record).

The only time I would want to keep the door open would be if some other student had advised me that a certain advisor was a bit creepy, and that keeping the door open would be the best thing to do.

My current PI (also female) tends to like the door closed as well, otherwise her room is pretty much part of the corridor and it can get quite noisy.

Anonymous said...

Interesting question.

The question depends upon the situation. I have occasionally closed my door with male students, if I have to discuss something that I feel is sensitive to them. However, my office is set up so that the student is closer to the door than I am...thus they can leave if they want to or they can open the door. However, I don't want to close the door regularly. I'm not sure why...maybe it seems suspicious or maybe it encourages sharing of private thoughts. I just do whatever comes naturally to me. I hope it works.

Anonymous said...

Administration and research higher degree student:
Door open in any meeting with two people.

Any meeting with confidentiality should be minuted. Any minuted meeting should have more than two people present.

Why? Keeping the general safety culture up. "Seen to be done" aspect of professional conduct. Preventing inappropriate conversations regarding confidential matters.