It is one of the most fraught issues surrounding marriage today. While our grandmothers and mothers did it probably without even thinking about it, it’s not so much of a given that women will adopt their husband’s surname after marriage anymore.
I didn’t, and my decision not to take on FruGuy’s surname when we married has certainly caused the odd headache since then. Many people usually automatically assume that my name has changed and address mail to ‘Mr and Mrs’; and officially it can be a pain – I’ve had more than a couple of people almost completely unable to comprehend that we can be married but not share the same surname.
In the nineties it seemed like more women were going down the hyphenated route, but now the trend seems to have moved back to taking your husband’s name. Of all my married friends only one other has kept their maiden name after marriage. It’s a very personal decision, I just decided that this had been my name for 27 years when I got married and wanted it to carry on being so. Despite having a name that almost no one can pronounce correctly to begin with, and my husband having a very nice surname that sounds nice with my first name, I decided that for now I’m happy to remain with my old name.
So I was interested to read the other day that according to research by the Tilburg Institute for Behavioral Economics Research, a woman who changes or hyphenates her name after marriage can expect to earn €361,708 less over her working lifetime than those women who keep their maiden names. According to the research, titled, ‘What’s in a name?’ women who change their names are considered ‘more dependent, less intelligent, more emotional, less competent and less ambitious compared with a woman who kept her own name’, and a woman who kept her own name on the other hand is judged as ‘more independent, more ambitious, more intelligent and more competent’.
In using women’s surnames as a cue for judgement, a job applicant who took her husband’s name, in comparison with her own name, was less likely to be hired for a job and her monthly salary was estimated at €861.21 lower.
Ouch! Seems like there’s more to the name game than meets the eye. I’m sure there are a lot of other factors at play here, including issues surrounding having children and possible time outside the workforce as a result of childcare. I also think it’s a very stereotypical view to take, but how much of how we act and what we think is affected by first impressions and clichéd stereotypes? Probably more than we realise. But still I’m interested to know:
Did you take your husband’s name after marriage?
What made you decide to do so – or to keep your own name?
Has it ever caused you any financial difficulty such as this study would suggest?
What are your thoughts on this?