I often receive e-mail (typically inquiring about studying with me as a graduate students) from students, especially foreign students, whose gender/pronouns I can't easily tell (they haven't specified). (For people from the Americas and Europe I can usually guess reasonably reliably, but I get fuzzy when we get to names from Asian/African cultures). Let's say their name is "Foo (given name) Doe (family name)". I normally start formal e-mails "Dear [whoever]".
- Applicants don't typically have a PhD, so I can't address them neutrally as "Dear Dr. Doe"
- "Dear Foo" could work, but I generally like to be a little bit more formal with people I don't know (could argue that the rank differential [professor/prospective student] makes this OK?)
- "Dear Doe" is not a form of address I ever use with anyone else, seems weird
- "Dear Mx. Doe" is unusual in North America (and seems uncommon anywhere outside the UK: (Wikipedia)
- "Dear Mr./Ms. Doe"?
- Look up the name on the Internet and make a guess based on the region of origin?
Is there a best practice?