I have the privilege of working with a professor in another department at my university. I respect him very much, for he has done excellent work, and still he regards his colleagues both with consideration and respect. Moreover, he treats his students as colleagues, rather than as students. During a recent teleconference with an important funding partner, he said to the caller, "Let me introduce you to everyone in the room." He proceeded to introduce each graduate student one at a time, making sure to emphasize his or her strength and contribution to the project.
I compare this to the treatment that I get in many of my own meetings with the seven or so professors that I work with in my own department. In multiple meetings, I see a number of examples of poor courtesy. A few weeks back, I was in another teleconference, this time with just computer science faculty. The lead professor introduced only the principle investigators, pronounced all their names incorrectly, and ended with, "Oh and there are some graduate students." I've seen graduate students give presentations and when a question is asked from the audience, without hesitation, their advisor will answer it FOR them. I've seen faculty members say, "My graduate student did this work, but I will present it," all while that graduate student is in the room. I've seen faculty members complain to each other about their personal lives during professional meetings. I've seen thousands of occasions in which people simply interrupt each other. It becomes a game of who can talk the loudest, or who can talk the longest without stopping for breath. I am trying to remember the last time I saw someone actually finish a sentence. It reminds me of the Black Burst wireless protocol in which higher priority nodes are allowed to jam the channel until the lower priority nodes give up. Certainly not all the faculty behave in this manner, but it's certainly the typical behaviour, rather than the exception.
The faculty in our department wonder at the mystery of the "Graduate Students Who Don't Speak Up." There are often large department seminars, and during the presentations, perhaps one or two faculty will ask a question, but the audience is silent otherwise. Graduate students have been chided again and again by various faculty for not speaking up. For the majority of graduate students who are offered no respect, who are nameless technicians just implementing their advisor's visions, why would it occur to them to say anything at all?
As for me, I have the "disability" of being opinionated and snarky. This lack of mutual respect does not silence me, but it does have a detrimental affect on my own morale. Moreover, this lack causes me to wonder if other "top schools" have a similar environment, and if that's really where I want to be once I move on from this place.