I would very much like to submit this to the forum for help/opinion/suggestion (and I don’t think this is a unique problem, so maybe suggestions will help all):
I am organising an event which is advertised on our university website. Today I received an email: someone had seen the advert on the website and asked for further information. To my considerable surprise, the email was addressed to ‘Mrs. [my name]’. I checked the website; had there been a mistake in the conference announcement? No, the website reads: “for enquiries, please contact Dr [my name+email]”.
I don’t need to elaborate my irritation. I, and many with me, always use ‘Dr’ when in doubt. But clearly this enquirer (and it was a he) upon reading my name not only completely overlooked my clearly advertised title, but then inferred that despite working in a university I (1) would be most likely not have a degree, and (2) would prefer to be addressed as a married woman.
Here is my question: I need to respond to this guy (because I will invite him to the workshop). What do I say? My first thought was to let it slide – but shouldn’t I kindly point out to him what he has done/overlooked? What I would really like to achieve is for him to reflect on whether he would also have overlooked the title if I’d had a male name – and if not, to consider what that says about his implicit perceptions/ideas/biases. How do I bring this up though? I can’t think of any way really that is NOT likely to achieve the opposite of what I intend (i.e. reflection and progress) – and will just anger him/make him feel under attack. So my second though still is to let it slide. Any suggestions? Please????? I am sure I am neither the first to encounter this, nor will I be the last.
Incidentally, the enquirer is a lecturer in another university – which makes it all the more worrying. One really hopes that he does not let the same bias affect his judgment of or behaviour towards his own students.
Any thoughts, wise readers?