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This question is inspired by the question My class teacher was not happy with my mistake of using a wrong title, in particular by the statement

But the contact information on the school's web does not tell whether she is married or unmarried

I have seen lots of academic websites, and I noticed only a few times that academic people would divulge what to me seems like very personal/private information via their website. More concretely, the only times I saw any hint of that were statements in the style of (hypothetical example) X is an assistant professor, passionate programmer, husband, father, hobbyist painter, and loyal fan of The Black Adder to express how multi-faceted a person the academic in question is. Of course, not everyone writes that on their website, as that would make the statement seem trite/overused. (Granted, it may already be on the verge of becoming so.)

In other words: Expressing whether one is married or not does not seem to be a standard thing that is done on academic websites, unlike, for example, the university and year of getting awarded one's PhD degree.

Or is it? Maybe my own impression is biased in that I have seen disproportionally many academic websites from people who work in a German-speaking area, and incidentally, any distinction in addressing married and unmarried people has fallen out of fashion in that language, so knowledge about the marital status would not be of any use.

Therefore, my question is:

  • Is there any explicit or implicit part of self-presentation etiquette that suggests to somehow provide information about one's marital status on one's academic website in language environments where that information may have to be considered by other people?
  • or, in other words: Is the expectation to find any information on an academic's marital status on their academic website with any desirable degree of likelihood reasonable within any context?

I see this somewhat differently from a possible analogous question in Workplace SE, as academic websites tend to be quite a bit more "individual". If it's unclear how to address a particular person in the industry, one can still write to the department as a whole (slight repercussions for not spending enough effort to actually find a way to directly address the intended recipient notwithstanding) and be reasonably sure that it will be processed. In academia, on the other hand, addressing something to a department as a whole rather than to a single person will often lead to the message being placed on the "Not sure what this is or who should even try to find out what it is." batch (that only ever gets touched again when all personalized batches have run empty) for an indefinite amount of time.

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    I have seen many websites that double both as an academic site and a personal site. These sites include things like a list of hobbies and family photos. This is probably culture-specific though. – Bitwise Mar 12 '15 at 1:51
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In US academia, I have never felt there is any expectation that an academic website should contain any personal or family information, such as marital status.

Some people choose to post personal information; this is their choice and (within reason) considered to be fine. Some people choose not to; that is their choice and considered to be fine.

You won't find my marital status on my professional web page, as I happen to feel that it's irrelevant to anyone looking for professional information about me. Nobody has ever even suggested to me that I should change that.

  • This is a good answer, though with respect to your own web page, I suspect the marital status is not necessary anyway as "mister" always applies, regardless of marital status. – O. R. Mapper Mar 12 '15 at 7:03
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    @O.R.Mapper: You seem to be fundamentally confused. The reason that most academics decide to include information about their marital status (or not) has NOTHING to do with appropriate titles; in most cases, the appropriate title will be Professor Smith or Dr. Smith, no matter what the gender or marital status. People include this information because their spouse is an important part of their life. (See e.g. these two friends of mine: math.umn.edu/~edavey sites.google.com/site/khalidmath) There can also be career reasons, though I feel this is less common. – Tom Church Mar 12 '15 at 8:31
  • @TomChurch: Cases where the appropriate title is Professor or Dr. are somewhat beside the point, as per the situation described in the question my question is based upon. I am not confused, I simply don't know how this is handled in cultures where the marital status may have a bearing on the correct form of address, which is why I am asking. – O. R. Mapper Mar 12 '15 at 8:43
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    @O.R.Mapper: Well, on my academic web page I don't refer to myself as Mr or Dr or Professor, I just put my name. If I were a woman I expect I'd do the same: just my name, no Ms or Miss or Mrs. This seems to match what I've observed on other's web pages. – Nate Eldredge Mar 12 '15 at 13:21

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