The XX Factor

Does Changing Your Name Make You Poorer?

The New York Times’ Economix blog summarizes a dubious-sounding study from the Netherlands that suggests that women who take their husbands’ names were “less likely to be hired by the study’s participants, and their salaries were estimated to be significantly lower (a difference of 861.21 euros, or about $1,172.36).” Women who kept their maiden names were seen as less caring and feminine but more competent by the particpants, all of whom were students.

Times blogger Catherine Rampell is careful to note the limitations of the study, which had a small sample size and was based on hypothetical situations. However, there is something to the notion that keeping your name professionally is worthwhile, particularly if you’re in a public field. As women marry at an older age, they’ve already built a professional reputation around their maiden names, and changing that name can confuse potential employers. If they’ve heard great things about a Mary Smith, they might not register her achievements when Mary Jones’ résumé comes across their desk.