Up & Coming Weekly

August 12, 2014

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

Issue link: http://www.epageflip.net/i/362354

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 24

AUGUST 13-19, 2014 UCW 5 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM I have thought about my name many times over the years for all sorts of reasons. It is an ongoing connection with the beloved grandmother for whom I was named. It is a bit old fashioned, with very few little girls being named Margaret these days. It is a reminder of my childhood when the comic strip, "Dennis the Menace," reigned supreme, and I heard "dumb old Margaret" with great regularity at Haymount Elementary School. Never once in all those years, though, did it ever occur to me to wonder whether Margaret has "muscle." Common sense has long told us that demographic information is contained in our names. For example, Margarets and Lindas are likely to be at least middle- aged, since their popularity as names seems to have waned. Conversely, I never knew anyone named Ashley, Madison, Sean or Evan when I was growing up, so I assume, almost always correctly, that individuals with those names are younger than I am. We can also surmise what national heritage someone might have, what ethnicity, socio-economic status, religion and other personal info just by knowing their names. It turns out that our names may not just contain information about us. They may actually affect the paths of our lives. Writing in The Atlantic, Cody C. Delistraty makes the case that our names influence how other people react to us and that they can help — or hinder —us in our careers and in our personal lives. He begins with a personal tale of a young French woman with whom he was flirting. She bolted as soon as she heard his name but could not pronounce it. He continues with stories of names that propel people up the career ladder and ones that hold us back. He backs up his strong, at least to me, assertions with research, some quite scholarly. Delistraty says that simpler names are an advantage to both human beings and companies. Human beings like to be able to pronounce and understand the words we use, including names. This is borne out by the fact that companies with simple names benefit from more significant investments than companies with complicated names that do not really explain much about them. We also gravitate toward people whose names we recognize and can pronounce. We feel closer to those people, almost as if our brains are suspicious of ones we do understand as readily. This human response translates into people with easy to pronounce names being judged more positively than those with less recognizable names. They get into prestigious colleges at higher rates, and are hired and promoted more readily. This is good news for Kate and John and not so much for Hortense and Homer. Also troubling is the reality that our reaction to names tends to be sexist. In jobs and professions that have traditionally been considered male occupations, women with gender- ambiguous names are often more successful that their femininely named colleagues. Think Mary and Gene. What is more, Delistraty references a study that finds that women lawyers having more masculine names at least triples their chances of becoming judges. This is known as the "Portia effect," and often means yes to Jan but no to Jane. While I am uncomfortable even sticking my big toe on this road, a 2004 study in the American Economic Review found that hypothetical job applicants with the names "Emily Walsh and Greg Baker" were called back nearly 50 percent more often than equally qualified candidates with the names "Lakisha Washington and Jamal Jones." As the mother of three Precious Jewels, each carrying a family name, two of which are not gender specific, I understand that names can be an issue. One of the Jewels has to explain her name more often than not, and another has to spell his. Their parents chose their names to honor people who came before them and to carry on family heritage. If there was any conversation about an albatross around their necks, I do not remember it. I am also not sorry that my Jewels carry the names of people we loved, no matter what. I have a young friend who is expecting a little boy in October. She and her husband have chosen a strong, single syllable, clearly masculine name for their son. Like everyone else, he will have to scramble through childhood, school, college and into the job market, and I suspect his name will be an advantage to him. It certainly will not be a disadvantage even though none of this might have occurred to his parents as they chose his name. The cold hard reality is that we human beings make snap judgments about each other, often within seconds of meeting. Good looks, good manners and a genuine smile are assets. A name can be as well. The Name Game MARGARET DICKSON, Contributing Writer, COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com.. 910.484.6200. THIS WEEK WITH MARGARET Serving Fayetteville Over 50 Years! 484-0261 1304 Morganton Rd. Mon-Sat: 6am-10pm Sun: 7am-2:30 pm Daily Specials • Breakfast • Lunch • Dinner Fresh Seafood • Hand Cut Steaks • Homemade Desserts • Italian & Greek • Children's Menu Banquet rooms available up to 100 guests Contest&RequestLine: 910-764-1073 www.christian107.com KeepingtheMainThing...theMainThing. visitusonline FocusontheFamily 20Countdown Magazine Adventures in Odyssey Simpler names are an advantage to both human beings and companies. Picking a name carries a lot of weight..

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Up & Coming Weekly - August 12, 2014