Many universities use Latin in some ceremonial occasions. Many academic titles in Latin are masculine but have natural feminine counterparts: doctordoctrix, lectorlectrix, professorprofestrix. Are these feminine versions used in today's formal academic contexts?

I would like to know, for example, whether it would be appropriate to address a female lecturer as lectrix. To better understand which choice to make, I would like to know if such address is in use elsewhere; maybe precedents can help me judge.

I have seen the feminine versions in use in less formal occasions. For example, many Latin texts written about an annual cultural event in my home city do this for many titles: scriptrix, lectrix, protectrix

2 Answers 2


The first ever female professor (and second ever female laureate) was Laura Bassi, who held her dissertation in philosophy in 1732 at the university of Bologna and taught Newtonian physics there. I've found this effigies of hers which reads, «LAURA CATHARINA BASSIA / Bononiensis / Philosophiae Doctrix, Collegii Lectrix publica / Instituti Scientiarum Socia. [...]». Also see these interesting Miscellanea about her academic achievements.

Another notable example is Maria Gaetana Agnesi, widely recognized as one of the greatest mathematicians of all times, and author of an important textbook "for the use of the Italian youth" on the subject of analysis, which consectrated her fame throughout Europe. She taught mathematics in Bologna from 1750 to 1752, replacing her ill father, but I could not find any titles related to her (she never actually held a formal dissertation and thus had no degree).

This is stuff from 300 years ago, but I think it would honor any female member of the academia to be addressed with the same titles as these important women back in their times.


At Oxford, Latin is still the official language of Congregation, such that for proceedings in English permission is asked first*. The annual ceremony where honorary degrees are conferred is called Encaenia, and is an opportunity for a short speech honouring each graduand in Latin. If you search online for 'Oxford Encaenia Gazette' you'll find the texts of the speeches with a translation.

From a brief glance at the 2021 version, you can see that the (female) Vice-Chancellor is addressed as Vice-Cancellaria which is the feminine version. If you hunt through you will find other women and how their titles have been translated. It looks like professor is still used for women professors.

*On the 2021 document I linked, you may enjoy that on page 15 the Public Orator is granted permission to use English, and immediately jumps into Old English.

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    Not quite the same, but I have certainly seen "professor emerita", as the feminine version of emiritus.
    – TheHonRose
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 4:28

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