I don't look very professorial. When people ask me what I do and I respond, the most common reaction is: "Ha ha ha! That's a good one. No, seriously, what do you do?" Once, I came back home to visit my parents. My mother always tells all of her friends about her talented and accomplished daughters. So during my visit she took us to a store where many of her friends hang out. There, we encountered a friend of hers and the following conversation took place:
My mother: I'm so happy, my daughter came to visit me from the US.
Friend: The one who is getting a PhD from Yale?
My mother: Yes!
Friend (turning to my sister): Hi, so nice to meet you! I heard so much about you!
My sister (pointing to me): No, she's the one who goes to Yale.
Friend (turning to me with a look of utter disbelief): YOU go to Yale??
Friend: YOU are getting a PhD???
Me (feeling very uncomfortable at this point): Yes.
Friend (visibly perplexed): Huh!
Men, in particular, are often extremely condescending when they first meet me. Many men (even men I've never seen before) can never conquer the temptation to call me baby, sweetie, or honey. Since I don't really feel like a strange guy's baby or sweetie, I get very annoyed. So I elaborated a series of techniques that are meant to stop this kind of thing.
One of my techniques is called "Little Angel Technique." If you are a woman, you probably know that asking people to stop calling you "honey" often provokes the "oh-stop-being-so-uptight-response." This is what gave me the idea of the "Little Angel Technique." I had a chance to put it in practice the other day with a cab driver who kept treating me disrespectfully.
The driver (playfully while ogling me in the rearview mirror): Hello, baby! And where should I take the pretty lady on this great day?
Me: Corner of Madison and Charles.
The driver: You got it, honey.
Me: Thank you, little angel.
The driver (after a pause): Erm, what did you say, sweetie?
Me: I said thank you, little angel.
The driver (shifting around uncomfortably): I just... I mean... why did you call me... that?
Me (playfully): Oh please, no need to be so uptight.
Silence. We arrive at our destination.
The driver (in a very tense voice): It will be $4.50, Ma'am. Thank you, Ma'am. Have a nice day.
Just asking people not to address you in this way often fails to work. This is only one of the techniques I use to stop this kind of thing. I will keep sharing them and if somebody wants to share their own, you are welcome.