What we call each other — professional titles in academia

Tweet with by Dr Esther Choo — “MEN:When you write letters of support for women for grants (and anything else), please [x8] address them by their professional title and not their first name. Did they draft the letter themselves? change that ONE bit for them.”
Tweet by Dr Amy Diel highlighting a report about the inequality of title use by men, and the equal title use by women.
Tweet by Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez: “For the record @Mike_Pence, it’s Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to you.”
  • Actively consider how you would prefer to be addressed by students, the public, and other forums of communication. This may change based upon the power dynamics between you and other parties, as well as the general audience, platform, and format in which you engage.
  • Consider your preferences may be affected by your privilege (i.e. the barriers you have not had to overcome) and seniority.
  • In public forums, default to the highest form of address for individuals if you are uncertain.
  • When you introduce yourself, e.g. at the start of a course, onboarding of trainees, clarify how folks should address you. This can be included when you introduce your TAs, office hours, pronouns and more.
  • If you have time prior to an event you are involved with, ask colleagues how they wish to be addressed in this forum. Please try to make that time too. This is doubly important if you are convening or moderating the event, and actively manage and watch for the norms that are being established at your event. You can always step in and retitle people when people accidentally forget.
  • If you are the most senior person present (or being presumed to be the most senior), consider what examples you are setting and the impact of this on more junior and/or marginalised colleagues.
  • When you hear a colleague being untitled, consciously make a note of this. You can raise this in private with whomever did this afterwards (they may not have realised this). If you need to speak, you can make sure that you specifically retitle the individual in this follow-up, .e.g. “I agree with Dr YYY, and echo the thoughts that Dr YYY was saying,…”
  • If you notice instances of untitling (e.g. written communications) ask for it to be corrected, updated and if required, reissued. Remember, you don’t get brownie points for doing the right thing — because that just the right thing to do.




Atomic sorcerer, based at UBC (Canada). Plays with metals. Discusses academic life. Swooshes down ski slopes. Pegs it round parks. (Views my own)

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Dr Ben Britton

Dr Ben Britton

Atomic sorcerer, based at UBC (Canada). Plays with metals. Discusses academic life. Swooshes down ski slopes. Pegs it round parks. (Views my own)

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