Non-Gendered Title for Retired Faculty

Date of Notice:
Current Status:


Jennifer Freyd (CAS - Psychology); Dare Baldwin (CAS - Psychology, Senator); Gabriele Hayden (UO Libraries, Senator); Barbara Mossberg (Professor of Practice in Literature, Honors College); Kathryn Mills (CAS - Psychology); Paul Dassonville (CAS - Psychology); Lou Moses (Professor Emerit, CAS - Psychology); Melynda Casement (CAS - Psychology


Section I

1.1  WHEREAS the University of Oregon has identified the reduction of gender discrimination as a priority; and

 1.2  WHEREAS gendered language such as in professional titles has been shown to contribute to gender discrimination; and

1.3  WHEREAS language forcing a binary gender choice has been recognized as oppressive to individuals who do not identify with a binary gender; and

1.4  WHEREAS the current language used by the University of Oregon for emeritus faculty is both gendered in usage (emeritus/emeriti for men and emerita/emeritae for women) when there is nothing about the position that should vary by gender as well as forcing a binary distinction; and

1.5  WHEREAS there is every reason to believe that the current usage is likely to harm (via both status reduction[1] and cognitive cost[2]) some women and some non-binary faculty, both upon retirement and in advance knowing this lies ahead; and

1.6  WHEREAS using Professor Emeritus/Emeriti for any gender would not solve the current problem, in that those terms currently carry gendered meaning.  To the extent emeritus can be used to refer to either just men or both men and women, it operates as the “unmarked” (e.g., default or normal) case, implying that maleness is the default and femaleness is the exception.  Other similar examples (many of which our society has recently moved away from given discriminatory implications) include chairman, alumnus, fireman, stewardess, and even just “man” to mean human.  Research indicates gender terms that are part of linguistically marked categories can be disadvantageous to girls and women[3].

Section II

2.1 THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the UO Policies and official communications (such as university and department websites) will use non-gendered language to refer to retired faculty. This will pertain to formal UO policies and official UO websites.

Other Information

Freyd, J.J. (2021). Professor Emerit: It is Time to Reject Gendered Titles for Retired Faculty [Editorial]. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 22, 479-486. 

[1] Ridgeway C. L. & Correll S. J. (2004). Unpacking the gender system: a theoretical perspective on gender beliefs and social relations. Gender &. Society, 18, 510–531. doi: 10.1177/0891243204265269

[2] Steele, C.M. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance, American Psychologist, 52, 613-629. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.52.6.613

3 McConnell, A. R., & Fazio, R. H. (1996). Women as men and people: Effects of gender-marked language. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin22(10), 1004-1013.

Motion History

  • Notice Given

  • Approved