ONONYE | It’s 2020; Stop Calling Martha “Martha”

Please stop calling President Martha E. Pollack “Martha.” It’s disrespectful and your internalized misogyny is showing every time that you do it. Martha Pollack is the highest ranked faculty member at Cornell University, and the way that students refer to her is telling of continued gender biases in higher academia. There is a major disparity in referencing senior staff at Cornell University, with President Pollack referred to more frequently by her first name than Vice President Ryan Lombardi and Provost Michael Kotlikoff. In common conversation, students abbreviate these administrators’ titles to “Martha,” “Lombardi” and “Kotlikoff.”

Every time I hear a student refer to President Pollack by her first name, I remember my academic advisor’s warning during my first week at Cornell. She sat down her ten new advisees and explained the importance of referring to female professors as “Professor” or “Doctor” rather than “Ms.” or “Mrs.” She explained the struggle that she has faced after years in academia and her frustration when students, and worse, other academics downplayed her accomplishments when they reference her.